As we celebrate black history in the UK, IndustryMe is honoring the wonderful stylings of Afro-Caribbean culture and its profound impact on contemporary UK music.
If you’re curious as to how modern artists would describe how the culture has inspired their sound, check out last year’s post.
The UK is an eclectic area, filled with diverse people, styles, music, and everything in between. As a result, different cultures begin to seamlessly incorporate themselves into location as a whole. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the clear influences felt from Afro-Caribbean culture, particularly in regards to music. Sounds from West Africa, Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the like have long been taking over the music scene with no signs of stopping.
Currently, it is impossible to deny the power of African and Caribbean music: it is quickly becoming the new sound of the UK.
The UK is no stranger to these influences. Afro-Caribbean music first began gaining traction there in the 1950s, when Trinidadian Calypso groups Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra and Roaring Lion performed at the Festival of Britain in 1951. The performers, and, as a result, their style of music was placed in the public conscious.
Later, in the 1960s, with the establishment of Island Records and Trojan Records, Jamaican recordings hit the These labels specialized in ska and reggae, bringing these new styles to the masses. UK. Trojan’s first hit was Jimmy Cliff’s 1969 song “Wonderful World, Beautiful People.”
When punk started gaining popularity in the 1970s with bands like the Clash and the Jam, Afro-Caribbean artists attempted to put their own spin on things. This is perhaps most evident in reggae singer Junior Marvin’s version of the Clash’s “Police and Thieves.” This fusion was positively received by reggae legend Bob Marley, who wrote the song “Punky Reggae Party” in response.
As popular music changed in the 1980s and 1990s, Afro Caribbean-inspired music in the UK altered as well, eventually branching out into genres like grime and ragga and leading to the popularity of artists like Wayne Smith and his song “Under Mi Sleng Teng.”
With hip-hop and rap taking over the charts, those of Afro Caribbean descent began to blend their heritage with the environment in which they lived. For example, the music would have the percussion and melodies found in African music, but the lyrics are often representative of modern hip-hop with an emphasis on money, hardness, or power.
This influence continues today, as the charts are being inundated with this fusion of sounds. An example of this is Ramz’ debut single “Barking,” which peaked at #2 on the charts, becoming the most successful debut and the fourth biggest song of the year.
How Do We Categorize This Fusion of Cultures?
Afrowave. Afroswing. Afrobashment. These are some of the names given to the current sounds of Afro Caribbean music in the UK. However, none of these have exactly stuck, likely due to such a rich blending of cultures being so difficult to name.
Instead of trying to come up with a name, we should sit back and enjoy. It doesn’t need a specific title or genre. Let’s all just bask in the beautiful tradition of fusing different cultures together and see where the future has in store.