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The 7 Best Ever Reggae Movie Soundtracks

You will hear many of the genres influenced by reggae in movie soundtracks, Rap, Hip-hop, EDM but you rarely hear reggae music. In my view, it seems reggae is still regarded as a niche when it comes to film soundtracks and the music supervisors don’t seem to think it has a place in films unless the film or scene is specific to reggae culture. Considering reggae has existed for around 50 years there is not a lot to shout about in the blockbuster movie world. Still, I’ll get on to what I regard as the 7 best ever reggae movie soundtracks in a moment.


Reggae has many sub-genres that can accommodate all aspects of life. Love and romance (Lovers Rock) dance (Dancehall) atmospheric (Dub) trials and tribulations (Roots Reggae). These could all find a place in a movie soundtrack or incidental music. So, wouldn't it be great to hear reggae music feature more in the Hollywood blockbusters released every year? So, to the music supervisors out there give reggae a chance there is plenty of reggae music to choose from.


There have been great reggae soundtracks over the years but the associated films have, in the main, related to Jamaican and reggae culture. However, that doesn’t stop a song from being a great soundtrack. A great soundtrack is a great soundtrack no matter the genre and for me, the following are my 7 best ever reggae movie soundtracks.

7. Junior Murvin 'Police and Thieves' (Rockers 1978)

This film featured so many reggae greats like Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace, Big Youth, Gregory Isaacs, Jacob Miller, Robbie Shakespeare, Burning Spear and Dillenger. Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace plays a hard up musician trying to earn some extra dollars and calls on his friends when he needs to tackle some local "bad bwoys". To pick a track from this film is difficult but Police and Thieves was a song that resonated with life in the 70s and is such a classic with that great falsetto by Junior Murvin.


Police and thieves in the streets (oh yeah)
Fighting the nation with their guns and ammunition
Police and thieves in the street (oh yeah)
Scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition


(Credits: Junior Murvin)

6. Faybienne Miranda – ‘Prophecy’ (Yardie, 2018)

Yardie was directed by Idris Elba based on the novel of the same name and is a gritty no-nonsense tale of a character whose past catches up with him. A must-see film if you are a reggae fan. Faybienne Miranda was of Panamanian birth but lived in America and was a writer and Poet. She collaborated with Jack Ruby to produce Prophecy. It was one of the defining songs of the 70s with its urban feel and heavy bassline along with Faybiene Miranda's haunting vocals and political message.


At a politically charged time in Jamaica, it captured the attention of the Jamaican public. It became a favourite in the sound system scene in Jamaica and the UK with its deep-running bassline but was subsequently banned from Jamaican radio. Prophecy is listed as one of the top 100 reggae musical recordings by Island Records 25 years of Reggae music anthology.


Garvey prophesied
If there is a stand to be taken
Let not my people be forsaken
If there is a man to be blamed
Let the politician be named


(Credits: Faybiene Miranda)

5. Black Uhuru – ‘Youth Of Eglington’ (The Lunatic, 1991)

The film is about a Jamaican village 'lunatic' named Aloysious, who can talk to animals, trees and anything else including trees, cows and cricket balls. The ‘Youth of Eglington’ is one of the soundtracks. Produced by Sly and Robbie it is one of the great urban reggae songs of the era by one of the great reggae bands Black Uhuru. The lyrics speaking to youths across the world.


The youths of Eglington
Won't put down their Remington
The youth of Brixton
They put down their 45 Smith and
Wesson pistol pistol


(credits: Black Uhuru)

4. Peter Tosh – Stepping Razor- (Rockers 1978)

As I mentioned above, Rockers featured so many stars but I could not omit a soundtrack from the great Peter Tosh. Before Gangster Rap the ‘Rude Bwoy’ period in Jamaica was already influencing music. You had to be tough especially if you were short in stature. Originally a Joe Higgs song (who was short in stature, hence the reference to size in the lyrics) it also later featured on Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights album. Peter Tosh was a conviction artist and became known as the Stepping Razor and this song is a classic from the period.


I'm like a walking razor

Don't you watch my size

I'm dangerous



(Credits: Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs)

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3. Bob Marley -  Small Axe – (CountryMan 1982)

Countryman is about a young American couple who crash-land their plane in Jamaica. A fisherman called Countryman rescues them and leads them away from the authorities, who have fabricated a story about the plane for election purposes. The film is dedicated to Bob Marley and uses many of his lyrics and songs. However, Small Axe is one of the great Marley songs with memorable lyrics.


If you are the big tree, let me tell you that

We are the small axe, sharp and ready

Ready to cut you down (well sharp)

To cut you down


(credits: Bob Marley)


This fits in perfectly with the theme of the film metaphorically a small axe (Countryman) is up against a big tree (the authorities).

2. Toots & The Maytals ‘Pressure Drop’ (The Harder They Come, 1972)

This is such a great track by the great Toots & The Maytals.  The Harder They Come was a pivotal film in reggae history so I could not omit this song from the list. The song has been covered many times including by The Clash, The Specials, Robert Palmer and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. It has also appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where it is featured on the in-game radio station K-Jah West, a reggae station.


The tenant of the song is 'what goes around comes around' in the words of Toots & The Maytals:


I said a pressure drop,

Oh pressure, oh yeah

Pressure's gonna drop on you


(credits: Toots Hibbert)

1. Jimmy Cliff 'The Harder They Come' (The Harder They Come, 1972)

This is the title track to the great Jamaican reggae film The Harder they Come. Sung by and starring one of the legends of reggae Jimmy Cliff whose character arrives in Kingston looking for work and, after some initial setbacks, he ends up recording his first song, "The Harder They Come," but that's when his troubles start. The film is rough, tough with plenty of attitude. This is my number one soundtrack because of the impact the film had in bringing reggae to the world. It was a trailblazer.


So as sure as the sun will shine
I'm gonna get my share now of what's mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they'll fall, one and all


(credits: Jimmy Cliff)


So these are my 7 best ever reggae movie soundtracks. You are bound to disagree so let me know what you think. You can comment below.



I Am Legend (2007) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film starring Will Smith. In the clip below, he plays the character Robert Neville M.D, he tells the character, Anna, about Bob Marley while 'Stir It Up' plays in the background.


"He had this idea. It was kind of a virologist idea. He believed that you could cure racism and hate... literally cure it, by injecting music and love into people's lives. When he was scheduled to perform at a peace rally, a gunman came to his house and shot him down. Two days later he walked out on that stage and sang. When they asked him why - He said, "The people who are trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness."


(Credit: Warner Bros)

In my opinion, this is a very underrated moment in film history for reggae where a scene in a successful 'mainstream' Hollywood film, that is not about Jamaica or reggae culture, not only uses reggae music but takes a key moment in Jamaican political history and relates it to the current situation of Will Smith's character.


This shows that reggae music/culture can work in movies at the deepest level. So let's hope that the music directors and music supervisors out there give some of us reggae songwriters and composers a bit of the action.




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