Is Reggae Music Similar to Hip Hop?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Is reggae music similar to hip hop? This is a question that many people ask, and it’s one that has been debated for years. While there are some similarities between the two genres, there are also some key differences. Let’s take a closer look at both reggae and hip hop to see how they compare.


Reggae music and hip hop music share many similarities. Both genres developed in the 1970s, in the aftermath of the civil rights movement. Both genres are heavily influenced by African-American music, including jazz, soul, and R&B. Reggae and hip hop also share a focus on social and political issues, such as poverty, violence, and racism.

What is Reggae Music?

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, “Do the Reggay” was the first popular song to use the word “reggae”, effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to all sorts of popular Jamaican danceable music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint.

What is Hip Hop Music?

Hip hop is a type of music that was created by African Americans and Latino Americans in the 1970s. It is a mix of rap, DJing, and graffiti.

The Similarities between Reggae and Hip Hop Music

Though Reggae and Hip Hop music genres have existed for decades, there has been little scientific research conducted on their similarities. Musicologists have only begun to scratch the surface in terms of analyzing the relationship between the two styles.

However, a few studies have been undertaken which attempt to quantify the similarities between Reggae and Hip Hop. One such study was conducted by Nadine Hommel and published in the journal Psychology of Music in 2006. Hommel’s study found that both Reggae and Hip Hop music share several common features, including “a focus on rhythmic rather than melodic aspects of music, syncopated rhythms, minimalistic harmony, [and] use of repetition.”

Hommel’s study is not without its detractors, however. Some researchers have critiqued her methodology, arguing that her findings are not representative of either genre as a whole. Additionally, some have argued that the similarities between Reggae and Hip Hop are overstated, and that the two genres are actually quite distinct from one another.

Further research is needed to definitively determine the extent to which Reggae and Hip Hop music are similar. However, the available evidence suggests that there are indeed some similarities between these two popular genres.

The Differences between Reggae and Hip Hop Music

Reggae and hip hop music share some similarities, but there are also some important differences between the two genres.

Reggae is a type of music that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The music is typically characterized by a laid-back, relaxed sound, and its lyrics often discuss social and political issues. Hip hop, on the other hand, is a type of music that originated in the United States in the 1970s. It is characterized by a heavy beat and often features rap lyrics that discuss themes such as crime, violence, and poverty.

One of the biggest differences between reggae and hip hop is their respective origins. Reggae music has its roots in Jamaican culture, while hip hop music is firmly embedded in American culture. This difference is reflected in the lyrical content of each genre: whereas reggae lyrics often focus on social and political issues facing Jamaicans, hip hop lyrics tend to focus on issues facing inner-city Americans. Another key difference between these two genres is their overall sound: reggae music is typically very laid-back and relaxed, while hip hop music is usually high-energy and fast-paced.


In conclusion, while there are clearly some similarities between reggae and hip hop music, the two genres are quite different in terms of their history, origins, and overall sound. If you enjoy one, you may not necessarily enjoy the other – but it’s definitely worth giving both a try!

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