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Raggamuffin music (usually abbreviated as ragga) is a subgenre of dancehall reggae in which the instrumentation primarily consists of electronic music; sampling often serves a prominent role in raggamuffin music as well.

Wayne Smith's "(Under Me) Sleng Teng"—produced by King Jammy in 1985 on a Casio CZ-series synthesizer—is generally recognized as the seminal ragga song. "Sleng Teng" boosted Jammy's popularity immensely, and other producers quickly released their own versions of the riddim, accompanied by dozens of different vocalists.

The birth of ragga in Jamaica occurred contemporaneously with the ascension of electronic dance music in the Western world at large. Electronic music proliferated rapidly throughout the 1990s, and ragga was no exception: it revolutionized reggae music. One of the essential reasons for ragga's swift propagation is that it is generally easier and less expensive to produce than reggae performed on traditional musical instruments.

Ragga evolved first in Jamaica, and later in Europe, North America, and Africa, eventually spreading to Japan, India, and the rest of the world. Ragga heavily influenced early drum and bass music, and also spawned the syncretistic bhangragga style when fused with bhangra. Drum and bass is heavily influenced by ragga motives and artists, with many ragga vocalists appearing on its tracks, not surprising as early jungle/drum&bass had definite roots in the basslines and vocals of ragga. In the 90s, Ragga and breakcore music started to clash in the underground scene creating a style known as Raggacore.

Ragga continues to flourish and evolve, constituting the bulk of contemporary reggae music production.

Ragga and hip hop music

In the late 1980s, influential Jamaican rapper Daddy Freddy's pioneering efforts in fusing ragga with hip hop music earned him international acclaim while helping to publicize and popularize ragga. (In 1987, Daddy Freddy and Asher D's "Raggamuffin Hip Hop" became the first multinational single to feature the word ragga in its title.) As ragga matured, an increasing number of dancehall artists began to appropriate stylistic elements of hip hop music, while ragga music, in turn, influenced more and more hip hop artists.

Some ragga artists believe that the assimilation of hip hop sensibilities is crucial to the international marketability of dancehall music. Indeed, appeals to the contemporary rhythm and blues and hip hop music audiences in the English-speaking world contributed substantially to the multinational commercial success of such dancehall artists as Beenie Man, Shaggy, Snow, and Vybz Kartel.


The term raggamuffin is an intentional misspelling of ragamuffin, a word that entered the Jamaican Creole lexicon after the British Empire colonized Jamaica in the 17th century. Despite the British colonialists' pejorative application of the term, Jamaican youth appropriated the term as an ingroup designation. Raggamuffin music is, therefore, the music of the Jamaican "raggamuffins".

Abbreviated list of ragga DJs

Anthony B
Sizzla Kalonji
Damian Marley
Ragga Muffianismo Prince Wadada
Baby Cham
Junior Reid
Buju Banton
Mr. Vegas
Spragga Benz
Pato Banton
Al Beeno
Beenie Man
Bounty Killer
Charlie Chaplin
Cocoa Tea
Cutty Ranks
Daddy Freddy
DJ Collage
Elephant Man
Lady Saw
Mad Cobra
            Ragga Oktay
Papa Dee
Sean Paul
Shabba Ranks
Tony Rebel
Wayne Smith
Tippa Irie
Vybz Kartel
Barrington Levy
Junior Kelly
Roots Manuva

See also


Download sample of "Under Me Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith, an early example of ragga music.

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Home | Up | List of genres of reggae | African reggae | Ragga | Riddim | Roots reggae

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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