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Roots Reggae Revival - Consciousness Awareness and Overstanding

... to overstand is to comprehend a concept and why it is the way it is.


Those of you that have been following my blog know that I believe that the golden age of reggae was the 70s and that reggae has always been a vehicle and voice to express injustice and raise consciousness. This is something that is again becoming stronger in the eyes of the new crop of reggae artists. I 'll come to that latter.

Understanding and Overstanding

To raise consciousness is to 'Overstand' What does this mean and how does this relate to reggae? Well, one definition comes from the Rastafari philosophy where everyone is equal under god hence the term 'I n I'.  As such, any concept or idea created by us cannot be superior to us. Therefore, to be aware and correctly comprehend a concept or idea in the right context is to 'overstand' it.

Being able to understand or overstand does not in itself mean that you will be liberated from whatever struggle you are engaged with.

So let's use an example, debt. We have all at some time played the role of debtor i.e. owe someone or some corporation money. We understand that borrowing can help us achieve things quickly and that we will have to pay interest on what we borrowed. We also understand that we can also borrow more.

Now, if we don't have a certain level of overstanding we are going to have issues. For example, we need to overstand that we have given a certain level of power to the lender over our destiny if we do not abide by their terms and conditions and that lending to us was not an act of charity but an un-emotional business enterprise to make a profit that will drive their behaviour. So to overstand is to comprehend a concept and why it is the way it is.

So back to music. Something that roots reggae or conscious reggae has been doing since reggae music began is expressing the trials and tribulations of life and also raising awareness of why life is more difficult than it should be, overstanding. This was the driving force of the golden age of reggae in the 70s and the reasons for wanting to spread those messages still exist today. However, reggae is now a genre with multiple sub-genres some more popular than others.

Roots Reggae Revivalists

Reggae having many sub-genres a testament to the versatility and creativity of the music and the artists. The dominant force over the last couple of decades has been Dancehall which generally has a completely different vibe and message to roots reggae. But in a world where people are crying out for change in the way things are done and music that epitomises this message, it is conscious reggae music that can satisfy this demand.

The last few years have seen the rise of young Jamaican artists referred to as 'Roots Reggae Revivalists'.

The shining light of this movement is Chronixx but it includes Jah9, Protoje, Dre Island, Kabaka Pyramid, Mortimer and others. These 'revivalists' play consciousness-raising reggae increasing awareness and overstanding to an ever-increasing audience.

The reggae foundation artists and legends who have always continued to express conscious messages in their music will doubtless disagree that roots reggae ever went away or needing reviving. But like most changes and trends in the world, they are led by the young generation and it seems that uplifting and spiritual lyrics are what many seek.

The young revivalists have taken the core roots reggae vibe and added their own modern twists. This mix of conscious lyrics and progressive roots reggae riddims seems to be taking them to international stardom. This can only be good for reggae music, having rising talents writing great music and spreading uplifting and positive messages across the world.

The more overstanding there is the more change will happen.


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