Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music is a blog that explores the connection between Jamaican proverbs and reggae music.


For centuries, proverbs have been used to capture the essence of a culture. Jamaican proverbs are no different, and they are often used in reggae music to relay a message or convey a certain way of thinking.

Reggae wisdom is rooted in the oral tradition of the Jamaican people, and it often uses wordplay to make a point. Reggae songs are often littered with proverbs, and they can be used to teach lessons or offer advice.

Some well-known Jamaican proverbs include:

• “A di tree yuh climb gi yuh di mango.” – The tree you climb gives you the mango. (You will only get what you work for.)

• “One one cocoa full basket, two two plantain full creel.” – One by one the cocoa fills the basket, two by two the plantain fills the creel. (Slow and steady wins the race.)

• “Mi nah run no dog fi my food.” – I won’t run after a dog for my food. (I won’t beg for scraps.)

Using proverbs is a great way to add depth and meaning to your songs. They can be used to make a point, convey a message, or simply add some Jamaican flavor to your lyrics.

The Origins of Reggae

Reggae is a genre of music that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The style is characterized by a strong backbeat, syncopated rhythms, and an emphasis on the off-beat. Reggae typically features a repetitive bass line played over a rhythm section consisting of drums, bass guitar, and keyboard instruments.

The roots of reggae can be traced back to ska and rocksteady, two other genres of Jamaican music that enjoyed popularity in the 1960s. Reggae began to emerge as a distinct genre in the early 1970s, when producers began to experiment with different production techniques. One of the most important innovations was the use of dub, a technique that involved adding echo and delay effects to the original recording.

Reggae quickly gained popularity in Jamaica and began to spread to other countries in the late 1970s. The genre became particularly popular in Great Britain, where it was embraced by the punk rock and skinhead subcultures. Reggae also found a home in North America, especially in urban areas with large populations of Caribbean immigrants.

In the 1980s, reggae experienced a revival thanks to the rise of dancehall, a subgenre that combined elements of hip hop, disco, and reggae. Dancehall artists such as Bounty Killer and Shabba Ranks achieved international success in the 1990s, helping to spread reggae’s popularity even further.

Today, reggae is enjoyed by people all over the world and has been adopted by many different cultures. The genre has also had a significant impact on other genres of music, including hip hop, punk rock, and heavy metal.

The Lyrics of Reggae

Reggae music is more than just a beat; it is a way of life. The lyrics of reggae songs often contain proverbs, which are wise sayings that teach about life. These proverbs are often passed down from generation to generation, and they help to shape the culture of Jamaica.

Here are some examples of proverbs that can be found in reggae lyrics:

“A hungry man is an angry man” – This proverb teaches about the importance of food in our lives. When we are hungry, we can become angry and upset. This proverb reminds us to always make sure we have enough food to eat so that we can stay calm and happy.

“One day at a time” – This proverb teaches us to take life one day at a time. We should not worry about what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year. We should only worry about today, and enjoy each day as it comes.

“All good things must come to an end” – This proverb teaches us that nothing lasts forever. Everything eventually comes to an end, even the good things in life. This is why we should appreciate the good things while they last, and not take them for granted.

The Meaning of Reggae

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term reggae is generally used to refer to ska, rocksteady, and dub music. Reggae is characterized by a 4/4 time signature, offbeat rhythms, and Rastafarian lyrics.

Reggae has its roots in African folk music, American R&B, and Ska. Reggae is a fusion of these genres, as well as other genres such as Mento and Calypso. Reggae was traditionally used as a form of social commentary, but it has also been used as a form of protest against injustice.

Reggae is typically associated with the Rastafari movement, which is a religious movement that began in the 1930s in Jamaica. The Rastafari movement teaches that Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, is the Messiah. Rastafarians believe in the healing power of cannabis, and many reggae songs make references to cannabis use.

Reggae has been a hugely influential genre of music, with its rhythms and melodies being adopted by artists from all over the world. Reggae has also been credited with helping to spread Jamaican culture and values around the world.


In conclusion, proverbs are an important part of Jamaican culture and music. They provide guidance and wisdom on how to live a good life. If you want to learn more about Jamaican proverbs, be sure to check out Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music.

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