From the streets of Jamaica to the pristine music studios of America, the evolutionary journey of ska music is one that spans three continents and goes all the way back to the post-World War II era.

The influx of R&B beats into Jamaica back then was made possible through radio stations in New Orleans and Miami – paving the way for local artists’ to add their own traditional music styles to the genre, notably, mento and calypso.

This lead to the birth of an entirely new genre, different from anything else that the Jamaican population had ever heard before – ska. By the time the ‘60s had set in, ska had become all the rage, right in time for the country’s independence from the UK in 1962.

Artists such as The Skatalites and Derrick Morgan penned down their feelings of pride and joy surrounding the event, and street parties gave new impetus to the genre in the country.

Ska experienced a second wave of revival in the ‘70s with a large number of Jamaicans immigrating to Britain – introducing their distinct rhythms and melodies to the mainstream audiences of UK.

Jerry Dammers together with his band ‘The Specials’ spearheaded the “2 Tone” movement – marking a renewed interest in ska which, by now, had become heavily infused with elements of punk rock.

Also worthy of a mention are bands such as The Bodysnatchers, Bad Manners and The Higsons that helped further propel ‘two-tone ska’ into the limelight.

Before long, American punk bands of the ‘90s had taken an interest in ‘two-tone ska’, adding faster tempos and edgier guitar riffs to create a fusion of the two genres simply called ‘ska punk’.

Today, bands such as Reel Big Fish and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, together with the help of a number of independent labels, continue to fly the flag for third wave ska punk.

Article published: 8th August, 2019
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