Read this article because it will point you in the direction of the most soulful, new Reggae artists on the scene today, playing Jamaican music and making it their own too. Bands that play Reggae music like it was the 1970s — Roots Reggae & Rocksteady — and still manage to keep it sounding fresh & modern.
Listen to 2 Spotify playlists of my favorite Reggae songs from the past few years. Get into the work of the top Reggae producers making music currently. Watch outstanding videos of current, soulful Reggae…
Watch Courtney John sing “Lucky Man” & make the girls go crazy…
Ready to go? Don’t stop the music.
Rocking steady with these Recent Reggae Favorites…
Fun, Uplifting, Soulful Reggae Music
Current Best Reggae Producers
Grant Phabao, a remarkable French producer of Paris DJs Soundsystem, can put a Reggae beat under almost any song and make you want to dance. His production style is full of deep, warm beats. In the Spotify playlist, he creates an ode to where Reggae comes from that will make you want to plan a vacation to Jamaica ASAP.
Below, he reworks a Ska classic,
“A Message To You Rudie” with Carlton Livingston….
Listen to a bonus tune from Grant Phabao,
Quench Aid & John Wayne — “Don’t Go Girls”…
He works with a stable of killer Jamaican vocalists to rework hip-hop classics, and create modern feel-good Reggae Soul classics. He also works a lot with Hollie Cook, the daughter of the Sex Pistol Paul Cook. The way she sings Reggae love songs will make you fall in love with her.
Quantic’s Remarkable Reggae Soul Sounds
Quantic is the most diverse producer out there right now. Everything he does is incredible, from Cumbia to Latin Funk, to Reggae & Dub (or their unlikely & distinctive combinations).
His album, Magnetica, is mostly an unusual marriage of Pacific Coast Colombian music with electronica. And then, there is “Spark It” with Shinehead — one of the best Reggae songs I’ve heard in recent years. Then, he followed that up in 2016 with 1000 Watts by his Flowering Inferno project on Tru Thoughts Records.
1000 Watts is old school Reggae, Rocksteady, One Drop style with soulful singing, some Ska, and mostly feel-good instrumental tracks. And still, it has a totally modern vibe. It’s fun, timeless, high-quality music that makes you feel good. Quantic’s 1000 Watts is easily one of the best records of 2016 — in Reggae or any genre.
Quantic never lets up. He tours a ton, and is always composing new, amazing music — like the song in this playlist, “Striding On Grand St.” from 1000 Watts.
Watch his band perform their new Reggae Soul tune,
“A Life Worth Living (feat. Jimetta Rose)” live from KCRW in Los Angeles…
Keeping The Vibe Alive — Soulful Reggae In Jamaica
He released a superb studio album, Ecosystem, in June 2017. It’s an amazing album for its lyricism, unmatched vocals, and marvelous musicianship. It will definitely be one of the best albums of 2017 (in any genre), and is an instant modern Reggae music classic. My favorite song on Ecosystem is “My Love Is Real” because he puts all his heart into the album’s lone love song. Between his ardent vocalizing, the bubbling rhythm section, and the heady horn parts — this tune melts the hardest of hearts.
The Marley brothers of course keep the Roots vibe alive in Jamaica. They also update it with modern production & a mix of Hip-Hop. This party tune, “All Night” from Damian Marley’s hit record, Welcome to Jamrock, was my favorite one on the album.
Soulful Reggae Sounds Spreading Worldwide
New Zealand band, The Black Seeds, give us “Everybody Knows” from their 2017 album, Fabric on Easy Star Records. It’s modern Reggae ready-made for a dance party at the beach.
L.A. band, The Lions’ record Soul Riot, which is one of the best albums of 2015 is an album packed full of hot, feel-good, unique Reggae songs.
The UK’s Easy Star All Stars have made a few classics in their own right, Reggae cover albums that I love, like their Reggae version of Sgt. Pepper’s. The track on this playlist is one of their originals.
Check out a remarkable Reggae producer from Greece, Blend Mishkin, giving us some dope, modern “Foundation Style” here.
Phenomenal French band, Soul Sugar, comes through with the best Reggae album of 2017 — Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub). True to its name, this album is full of funky, soulful Reggae tunes, and each one has a delightful Dub version as well.
“Big Car” is a Jackie Mittoo cover tune. It’s basically an instrumental Reggae version of “Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn. Its Dub version is mind-blowing too. Listen to them both in this Spotify playlist.
Boston band, Organically Good Trio, released Monster Sound in late December 2017. They’ve got a heavy organ vibe, potent riddim, phenomenal guitar playing, and positive Irie vibes. It’s a powerful record with several dope instrumentals & fun Reggae party tunes with vocals. Here, listen to one vocal track, “Welcome To The Time” & groovy instrumental, “Beam Me Up”.
A similar band, also founded by Slightly Stoopid keyboard player Paul Wolstencroft, is Knockout Machine. Their song, “All Systems Go” delivers an all natural high via vintage organ grooves & dubby delights, 70s Jamaican style.
Truly Remarkable Recent Reggae Collaboration
Prince Fatty also made the Funkish best albums for 2015 with The Clone Theory, collaborating with the great Mad Professor. I include “Brute Force” in this playlist, which is a more soulful riddim than its name suggests.
Mad Professor like no one else, has bridged the classic Reggae/Dub days while being active on the cutting edge all along, even taking on dubby Brazilian music & crazy Cumbia. Every track on this record is tough, classic style Dub at its best!
On The Clone Theory Mad Professor unearths original masters from the late 70s to create something wholly new & modern from them. And of course, the Prince Fatty tunes boast his inventive style — enthralling, stirring & impressive — of throwback dubs with 21st century precision. This is some of the best modern Dub Reggae out there.
Reggae Inna New York
John Brown’s Body from New York is always touring, and makes great Roots Reggae. “Step Inside” is a fun, party type tune from their album, Kings & Queens (which has a killer dub version as well). Listen to the Spotify playlist below for “High Grade,” a perfect party Reggae song with a super soulful sax solo from their excellent 2016 record, Fireflies.
Ticklah is the USA’s #1 Reggae producer. Here he’s working with classic Jamaican singer, Sugar Minott, to praise Jah’s name.
Brooklyn Reggae band, The Frightnrs, released an outstanding debut on Daptone Records in 2016 — produced by the great Ticklah. With two great backers like that, you’d think everything was going their way. But, shortly before the release, Dan Klein their lead singer, died of ALS. Read the tragic story and how the band keeps going here on Bandcamp.
The Frightnrs and their album, Nothing More To Say, exemplify today’s soulful Reggae sound. There’s a lot of songs about love lost played over vintage Jamaican music grooves, recorded live straight to analog tape for that 70s sound. This band is tight! The rhythms are deep and the organ groove sets the mood for Dan Klein’s distinctive vocals to tell the story.
Listen to “Gonna Make Time” on this Spotify playlist, my favorite track on this record for its romantic Reggae vibe.
Soulful Reggae Gets You Groovin’
The New Mastersounds put a so Irie Reggae tune, “Fancy,” on their phenomenal 2015 album, Made For Pleasure. Also, Pete from The New Mastersounds made a fun Reggae album in 2014. Brian J from Pimps of Joytime has a couple of nice soulful party tracks on the record like the one in this playlist that really gets you “Rocking Steady.”
10 Ft. Ganja Plant wants to take you to the beach and play music with friends on the phenomenal “Rush Me.”
Finally, The Delegators leave you dancing with this last one. They play beautiful, joyful, high-energy Rock Steady. Unfortunately they broke up recently; too bad because I really love these guys.
These are not exactly the top Reggae songs they are listening to in Jamaica nowadays, but underground, feel-good Reggae music keeps coming out, and getting better as it goes international, melds modern production quality with classic Roots & Rock Steady spirit.
Good prevails! Reach for the top, in the land of milk & honey where 10 foot ganja trees grow and everyone listens to Today’s Soulful Reggae…
Passionate Producers Of Remarkable Reggae Riddims
Listen to this stellar example, on which Grant Phabao remixes
“You’re The Kind Of Girl” by soul singer extraordinaire, Lee Fields, for the ultimate, modern Reggae Soul tune…
Jim The Boss put out an intoxicating Reggae album in 2016 — Hudson Soul on Boom One Records, and created at Hoboken Hi-Fi. Jim the Boss brings you his “Hudson Soul” sound that has made waves in the Reggae community. This album is full of mind-blowing Dub & modern instrumental Reggae at its finest.
Through the use of his hand designed and built electronics, and his seasoned studio band, Hudson Soul is reminiscent of the Channel One productions in the 1970s. This new album is a compilation of past productions at Hoboken Hi-Fi and new riddims with new voices.
Reggae producer, Victor Rice (creator of The Copan Connection with Bixiga 70) lends one of his most popular riddims “Type A” to Jim for this record, which also features a performance by Slackers co-founder David Hillyard. Jim the Boss also introduces a fresh new singer hailing from California, Jah Adam, who is featured prominently on this release.
Listen to “Type A” here, and get the album on Bandcamp because proceeds benefit the family of Dan Klein, the singer from The Frightnrs who died of ALS.
Victor Rice is known as a modern Dub master. An NYC native, transplanted to Sao Paulo, he works with several Brazilian bands too. Also listen to his tune in this Spotify playlist, “Carlene Dub,” from the album, Dub Discoveries In Version City.
Victor Rice’s song “Tema” is one of the highest energy tunes on his record, Smoke — definitely one of the best albums of 2017. If you love the Skatalites you’ll love this one. Hot horns and a driving beat will get you up on your feet.
Great British Reggae producer, Prince Fatty, closes out this second Spotify playlist with his first hit collaborating with Hollie Cook, “Milk & Honey” and its dope dub version.
Do yourself a favor and dig deeper into the extensive work of these producers, and the back catalogs of all these brilliant bands. There is so much marvelous music between them to explore whenever you need to listen to some fun, uplifting tropical music.
Instrumental Reggae — Warm & Sunny Soul Sounds
Dig some groovy instrumentals from the always amazing 10 Ft. Ganja Plant and the current king of the Reggae Soul organ sound, Roger Rivas.
The timeless guitarist, Ernest Ranglin, has given us some of the best Jamaican songs ever written. He keeps making beautiful Reggae music well into his 80s. “T.P. Cal” comes from his superb 2015 album, Ernest Ranglin At Side Door Records.
Soul Sugar gives us “19 Miles To Kingston” — an intoxicating Guillaume “Gee” Méténier original in the style of Augustus Pablo. There’s plenty of haunting melodica, and mind-blowing organ grooves in this soulful Reggae instrumental tune.
Daniel Delacruz, the tenor saxophone player of Slightly Stoopid, put out his own album, Opening Night, in 2017 after a few years of major struggles. The Aggrolites lend their deep Reggae riddims, and Funk master, Karl Denson, produced it. In this playlist, listen to “Rocksteady Lullaby” — a beautiful, joyful instrumental and sexy Reggae party groove.
Jamaican Music’s Soulful Young Voices
In addition, you’ll hear from Jamaica’s best young voices — more of Courtney John, of course. And, another recent Jamaican golden voice, Alpheus. His excellent, 2014 album Good Prevails was produced by extraordinary Spanish Reggae producer Roberto Sanchez.
Also listen to Christopher Ellis, son of old-school Reggae Soul king, Alton Ellis, sing “You Babe.”
Jamaica’s rising star, Chronixx, a 24-year-old artist with a skyrocketing career, released Chronology in 2017, one of the year’s best Reggae albums (and even nominated for a 2018 Reggae Grammy). In this Spotify playlist listen to “Skankin’ Sweet,” a laid-back party tune for those late-night beach fiestas. I also picked it as one the best Reggae tunes of 2017.
Reggae Soul Songs Crossover
My favorite soulful Rock & Roll band right now is The California Honeydrops. They did a real groovy Reggae Soul inspired tune, “Jolie” on their remarkable 2015 album, A River’s Invitation.
Organically Good Trio & Ryan Montbleau made a fantastic, fun Reggae Soul single for 2016, “What You Gonna Say?” It’s the perfect summertime song for BBQs & outside bars. It’s a funky organ fueled groove that sounds like sunshine.
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, from Rochester, New York, first impressed eclectic music fans in their live shows, combining world beats and Reggae rhythms with jamband aesthetics. The band’s studio recordings showcase their conscious songwriting & skilled musicianship across all genres of roots music. Listen to “Really True” from their excellent 2016 album, Make It Better. It’s a soulful Reggae tune from a great record that shows how well these guys mix genres to create unique, new Reggae music.
Also dig the project of Pete Shand, the bass player from New Mastersounds with Brian J from Pimps of Joytime, with “Loverdub Time.”
Thanks in advance!