Latin Reggae

Latin Reggae

This IS a funky reggae party.

A few weeks ago I wrote about music and ska in Argentina. In the world of Latin music, ska's first cousin, reggae, is also well represented.

Often groups will play both types of music, ska and reggae, switching between them to great effect. The same song will use both styles, which is easy because the only real difference between the two genres is tempo. Kick reggae into doubletime and you have ska; slow your ska right down and you have some funky reggae. Popular artists like Manu Chao, Panteon Rococo, Los Autenticos Decadentes, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs do this really well.But for a straight-up reggae group, listen to Los Pericos, who claim to be the first reggae band in Argentina. They recently released Pericos + Friends, collaborations of their biggest hits with artists like Toots Hibbert, the Wailers and Gregory Issacs. Two of my favorite songs are "Runaway" and "Pupilas Lejanas."

Then head over to neighboring Brazil and listen to Cidade Negra, who also happen to be featured on Pericos and Friends. Something about the Brazilians really lends a good Jamaica-like vibe to Reggae, maybe because of their shared racial origins. Or maybe it's the melodic nature of Portuguese. In fact Cidade Negra, along with Los Pericos, might be the two of the most popular reggae acts in the world outside Jamaica.

There are countless other good reggae groups in Latin America. But the best thing to do is to just travel down here and go to reggae clubs – especially on the coast you can find lots of local bands who do funky versions of Bob Marley songs and their own tunes. There's nothing like dancing barefoot on a dance floor of sand in the heat of Belize or Brazil to a local reggae band until the early morning.