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Riddim Culture & Definition

Origins of Riddims

The term ‘riddim’ is the Jamaican patois spelling of rhythm. Thus a riddim is defined as a movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like.

Going as far back as 1970, reggae music whose main proponent being dancehall has relied heavily on the riddim culture phenomenon. While a dancehall song consists of a deejay singing (voicing over) a riddim, the riddim is not exclusive to that song, a characteristic not applicable to other genres.

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Reggae, Dancehall & Riddim Talk

“This world was not created piecemeal. Africa was born no later and no earlier than any other geographical area on this globe. Africans, no more and no less than other men, possess all human attributes, talents and deficiencies, virtues and faults.”

~ Haile Selassie I

“Dancehall music is perceived as party music, which it is because of the rhythm, but there are messages that do come through or a purpose of an artist saying something to the world. People usually don’t get the messages because of the partying.”

~ Sean Paul

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”

~ Bob Marley

“Sometimes in life confusion tends to arise and only dialogue of dance seems to make sense.”

~ Shah Asad Rizvi

“I started DJing soundclashes. I used to go to Jamaica a lot. I was like a hip-hop sound boy, where I took the dancehall culture and mixed it up with the hip-hop as well. I kept going, going, and I got real hot in the streets of Miami – you know, doing pirate radio – then ended up doing 99 Jamz, the big station out there.”

~ DJ Khaled

“I don’t know where life will lead me, but I know where I’ve been. I can’t say what life will show me, but I know what I’ve seen. Tried my hand at love and friendship, but all that is passed and gone. This little boy is moving on.”

~ Jimmy Cliff

“Reggae music is simple music – but it’s from the heart. Just as people need water to drink, people also need music. If it is true music, the people will be drawn to it.”

~ Ziggy Marley

“No matter what class you’re from – uptown or downtown – when you’re in the dancehall everyone’s equal, and it’s how you choose to express yourself that makes you stand out.”

~ Kreesha Turner

“Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. Peace is not an ‘is’, it is a ‘becoming.”

~ Haile Selassie I

“Sometimes that is why you might even stay in the bathroom for even half an hour, making that water running all over, just singing.”

~ Dennis Brown

“I used to buy records in high school. Mainly dancehall: Super Cat, Buju Banton.”

~ Damian Marley

“Reggae has a philosophy, you know? It’s not just entertainment. There’s an idea behind it, a way of life behind the music, which is a positive way of life, which is a progressive way of life for better people.”

~ Ziggy Marley

“In the dancehall world, we have crews and they battle. It’s part of the entire culture surrounding dancehall.”

~ Kreesha Turner

“Music didn’t really hit me again until the ’90s, when the dancehall scene got going. The ’90s were perfect for me. I would have really liked to have had The Slits out in the ’90s again, to do tours and albums, because I think the ’90s was a brilliant decade for music.”

~ Ari Up

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself.”

~ Unknown

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

~ Bob Marley

“In the beginning there was the word. The word was Jah. The word is in I, Jah is in I. I make what is good, better, and what is better, best. I follow this in every aspect of life.”

~ Peter Tosh