Tuesday tracks

This time its Ska

If you are picturing a guy in a gray suit and a fedora or a college student in a 2000’s B movie then you might have as much of an imagination about ska music as I do. It is one of those movements in music that if you know, you’re in, and if you don’t know you’re normal. A person would probably be hard-pressed to find a passive ska fan.

That being said, ska is a form of music that originated in Jamaica and made its evolution into what we know today in the 50’s. It is characterized by its signature beat and up guitar “chop.” If you need any modern iteration in popular culture think “No-Doubt” or “Sublime” and you will have a close approximation. This is all from the Encyclopedia Britannica by the way.

The genre has four district waves, meaning the 4 times the genre was hot in a particular place.

0ne. “Independent Jamaica,” Lord Creator: Most of the earlier ska is firmly rooted in Jamaica. This song is not only indicative of ska at the time but also of the spirit of independence, Jamaica formally left the British Empire in 1962.

This is not the only theme seen in music from this movement. Other tracks feature a sort of rhythm and blues style with lyrics about love and loss. If you are looking for a trip back to a different time and place, I could defiantly suggest listening to this style of music. One could defiantly see this type of music getting lost in the fray, as rock n’ roll was just gaining hold in the United States at the time.

Two. “Skin head love affair” Bad Manners: Just as the first wave of Jamaican ska grew from an uprising against the status quo “Two Tone” ska came from almost the same feelings. Young progressive Brits were fighting for tolerance in the shadow of the Neo-Nazi movement (Skin heads). The lyrics of this song tell the story of a skin head falling for a ska girl. It doesn’t work out.

The song also references a famous part of “Two Tone”: the fashion from which the name comes from. Young ska people wore cloths that where “mod” and yes this includes the hats. The two tones referred to the normal white and black style choices. This information comes from an old BBC article.

Three. “Beer” Mustard plug: If you are ready to return to the present day but not ready to leave ska, this TikTok suggestion is where it’s at. Mustard Plug sounds like modern punk and will show you just how different new ska is from its roots in the West Indies.  This artist, in particular, really drives home the punk sound that ska has come to embody.

Another thing you will realize is that ska has not changed from its roots in many ways. The beat is still a step ahead and the horns are still blaring melodically.

During my short stint in researching this genre, I have realized just how consistent a theme ska has embodied: a fight against authority. In many ways, this genre has kept the same mantra because it never truly broke into the mainstream like punk rock. 

The next genre I will try to delve into is “Industrial,” wish me luck.

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