Talk Like a Local: Reggae Slang

Talk Like a Local — By Alexi Ueltzen on July 8, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Every musical genre develops its own set of slang terms (see Boogie Man, Clinker and Freak Lip for jazz). Some of the richest musical slang is associated with reggae and many of the terms are now synonymous with current musical styles (see Dub, D.J.). Should you find yourself in Jamaica – or, y’know, at a reggae concert – act like someone in the know by busting out the following terms:

Riddim: (Noun) A rhythm pattern; More technically, it is a bassline and drum pattern used with that bassline. They often develop from a popular tune and are named after that tune. Read more here.
Ex: Even modern artists are still using riddims from Studio One’s 1960’s output.

Dub: (Noun) An engineered recording, one on which vocals and instrumentals are added to the track not all at once, but after being recorded separately. This style of creating music is now widely associated with modern rap, but began with Jamaican seven-inch singles, and experimental mixes of instruments, effects and vocals. Get the full history here.
Ex: Now most Reggae Dub comes from the U.K., but that certainly wasn’t always the case.

Braata: (Noun) Literally, “a little extra.”; In musical circles, it has come to mean the encore.
Ex: I loved the whole concert, but the braata was my favorite part.

Chant: (Verb) To sing, especially spiritual or religious songs
Ex: The choir performed the loveliest chant at sunset.

D.J.: (Noun) A person who sings or scats along with Dub music (also called “toasting”); This term is also now used to describe someone who spins music in a club
Ex: The D.J. at the dancehall was amazing. I couldn’t stop dancing all night.

Bob Marley photo courtesy of dubdem sound system/Creative Commons

Tags: D.J., dub, history, Jamaica, music, reggae, slang

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