Roots is a subgenre of reggae whose lyrical content speaks to the everyday lives of those in Africa and the African Diaspora.
Developed in Jamaica in the early ’70s, the term was first used to describe the work of artists like Bob Marley & The Wailers, Burning Spear, The Abyssinians, and the Wailing Souls. Although roots reggae is most often associated with the Rastafarian religion and conscious themes, roots artists have also released love songs.
While the ’70s is considered the golden era of roots reggae, the genre has remained popular and evolved throughout the years. In the ’90s, a new generation of dancehall-influenced artists emerged, including Garnett Silk, Buju Banton, Sizzla, and Capleton. In recent years, the likes of Koffee, Tarrus Riley, Chronixx, Protoje, and Kabaka Pyramid have kept the genre alive while updating the sound.
Discover the essential tracks in our playlist below.
Discover more subgenres in our Subgenre Spotlight series.