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Old School Reggae #1 Draft Pick & Jamaica’s Impact On Hip Hop

Who Is Old School Reggae's #1 Draft Pick?
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Vote for 1 male & 1 female artist to represent as your #1 draft pick. Worldwide Entertainment TV Network will be going on air every Sunday with music and artists from around the world.

The Old School Hip Hop Draft was fun to do and the reaction has been great. So great that I was asked to do an old school draft for artists from the island of Jamaica for #CaribbeanSunday on WWETV Network. The administration of Worldwide Entertainment TV has given yours truly Venom this easy task to pick the #1 draft pick. That’s right I think this is undeniably easy as there is only one person I would pick.

What I will do however is go through a little history lesson on Jamaican music as 1968 is reportedly the birth of reggae with  Nanny Goat (Larry Marshall and Alvin Leslie), Bangarang (Stranger Cole and Lester Sterling), Baby Why (the Cables), and No More Heartaches (the Beltones)as the men who were putting the genre’s foundation together that would give way to the #1 draft pick of old school reggae Bob Marley. That’s correct I gave you my answer right away because there can only be another #1 draft pick realistically if Marley just never existed and here is why!

Bob Marley

In my old school hip hop draft article I had a rule that my #1 draft pick would be the person I would have represent my new genre that I was representing to the world. I had may different contenders that I could consider the total package that would be able to crossover to the mainstream, be true to the artform, have imitators, and most importantly start of a revolution in music.

“Every song is a classic, from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution. But more than that, the album is a political and cultural nexus, drawing inspiration from the Third World and then giving voice to it the world over.”


Bob Marley undoubtedly did this task and beyond as he was given the mantle of “Album Of The Century” by Time Magazine for the album “Exodus”. He also possessed the traits of that one superstar draft pick that I had problems picking for hip hop due to certain rappers I felt fell short in leadership. Bob Marley had no peer in that department as well.

His story is an amazing one and we could be here all day writing all the great accolades he had, but I will focus on him being a game changer and how if my MVP from the old school draft only could have the cool and calm demeanor of Bob Marley he could have been even bigger and greater. Bob Marley is the quintessential #1 Draft pick for music in general. He also had aspects of his career that many rappers would have as marketing tools to increase sales and their image, but when Bob Marley had those aspects it was of a different level as he was carrying a revolution that was truly threatening the establishment.

Bob Marley represented the underbelly of Jamaica in the 1960’s in Trench Town at a time of receiving independence from the Queen of England. The island was rift with politics and crime that Marley was strictly against and this passion had him rooted with his music that would represent a people of Rastafarianism that was birthed in the 1930’s from the prophecy of Marcus Garvey of Haile Selassie and the use of his original name, Ras Tafari Makonnen.

Every law is illegal. Every government on the face of this earth is illegal. Not one of them is legal.

Bob Marley

These words may have made Bob Marley a marked man when he said these words on a documentary that aired in the United States. It was very controversial in its day. This however, is a good reason why I would choose Bob Marley hands down to represent this new genre of music reggae. There was no wiggle room for what this music was for and was about. It was about love of people and against injustice. However, it needs to be said that there would be no Bob Marley if it wasn’t for his growth with The Wailers that consisted of other greats such as Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. It is from this origin that made him an international star. A good comparison is Michael Jackson’s growth with his brothers in the Jackson Five which led to his later masterpieces that shook up the world.

What really shows Bob Marley is unique and one in a million superstar is how he handled himself when persecutors came at him. How he handled himself when he was put into a position to try to stop the corruption and violence in his homeland. He believed his music could do the deed and it did on some levels. Michael Manley the leader of the island who touted a brand of socialism and Edward Seaga who had his brand of capitalism he felt that the island needed for change and believed if Manley won another election he could turn Jamaica into a total socialist state in 1976. The gangsters needed the politicians for protection from the police, money, and guns and the politicians needed the gangsters to get the people to come out and vote.

Bob Marley of course did not like seeing the youth fighting against the youth in the name of politics and in 1976 Bob Marley had a worldwide profile that the JLP and PNP politicians wanted to help sway voters, but Marley knew it was a dangerous scenario and stayed neutral which was ironic as he lived on the same street as the Prime Minister. That illustrates the point of power Marley had in Jamaica and with this power he wanted to do something that could create change with a benefit concert called Smile Jamaica.  The politicians announced an election right after causing issues of death threats to the iconic reggae singer to not perform at the event. He obviously ignored the threats and continued his mission to carry the reggae torch. There was an attempted murder on Marley at his Hope Road home days before the event. 

Bob Marley’s career went to a different level after the incident as he performed wounded at the show. There is a great documentary on Netflix which gets into the details of the incident entitled “Who Shot The Sheriff”. Marley would then later united the two political parties on stage and showing how much of a leader he was for his music and for Jamaica at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978. The BBC has also proclaimed “One Love” as the song of the 20th Century.

Bob Marley with Michael Manley & Edward Seaga

Could we have, up here onstage here the presence of Mr. Michael Manley and Mr. Edward Seaga. I just want to shake hands and show the people that we’re gonna make it right, we’re gonna unite, we’re gonna make it right, we’ve got to unite.


Bob Marley although he was abroad due to the rising violence in his land was still able keep in contact with the disenfranchised and some of those running the streets. This duality is something that no other artist in history was able to accomplish even though the same streets took aim at him who disagreed with his movement.

Now this concert is a great lead in to speak about the other great draft picks out of the era that could have been leaders of the music coming out of Jamaica.  There is one artist that was on the bill that day at the One Love Peace Concert who would be the influence for another musical artform that would be born in the 1970’s. What do you know about U Roy?

Reggae and hip hop is big time family. It ah come from the same cuz you see the dj and we have the singer coming in and sing and come out. The same way rappers ah do it now. Have the singers come in, the rappers come in the same part. So you see it’s family.

U Roy
The Father of Hip Hop DJ Kool Herc
Praises U Roy For Influencing Him

There have been many documentaries about the history of hip hop, but there haven’t been any that go into depth about how Jamaica played a part in influencing the culture although the man credited for birthing hip hop has gone on record more than once to make this known. The video below was an interview excerpt from the Canadian version of Rap City back in the 1990’s.

Hip-hop….the whole chemistry of that came from Jamaica…..In Jamaica all you needed was a drum and a bass. So what I did was go right to the ‘yoke’. I cut off all the anticipation and just played the beats. I’d find out where the break in the record was and prolonged it and people would love it. So I was giving them their own taste and beat percussion wise….cause my music is all about heavy bass

DJ Kool Herc

Ewart Beckford professionally known as U Roy was a known toaster that was ska music which led to the reggae music of today. A popular toaster as they were called in his day who was inspired by Count Matchuki who is widely considered as the first deejay in Jamaica who mimicked American deejays who use to “rap”(American jive as it was called) over songs to add their own twist and mix to the music.

Louis Jordan

For me if there was a rapper I think Lou Jordan was the first rapper. To me if there was a rapper at the time. In my time I never know for rappers. Yuh si mi? So for as I’m concerned if you were a rapper at the time it would have to be Lou Jordan.

U Roy
U Roy On Who He Believes Was The 1st Rapper
Who Influenced Him in Jamaica

U Roy in an interview last year touched upon the topic if he was the original rapper. He states there was no such thing as a rapper back then, but if there was he would give the title of 1st rapper to Louie Jordan because that is who influenced him to do the style that he did although he was really a singer. You see how it could be easily said for some that U Roy is the #1 draft pick because he helped inspire a whole new genre overseas in the United States from enhancing something he heard from America?

Bob Marley’s standing as my 31 Draft Pick is predictable, but the only reasonable choice. I mean how could you argue against a man that was named “Artist Of The Century” and the little trip down memory lane only solidifies their choice as correct. Also to respect the history of reggae it should be noted that the artform doesn’t really respect the competition aspect as dancehall and hip hop in later years would thrive on.

Music is a mission not a competition.  There should be no doubt, however, that Dennis Brown deserves the same level of respect as Bob Marley for his work in reggae music


This does not however take away the fact that there were others who made reggae great and if Bob Marley wasn’t around they could have represented the genre well although not on the worldwide scale that Marley did. “The Crown Prince Of Reggae” Dennis Brown was a monster of an artist in his prime as well.

Dennis Brown

In the hip hop world artists such as Lil’ Wayne and Tupac Shakur are heralded for their massive body of work, but Dennis Brown had a work ethic that was similar as he created over 75 albums and is credited for creating a sub genre of reggae called Lovers Rock. He would also influence artists for generations to come
just as Tupac and Lil Wayne did for their industry. Dennis Brown also performed at that historic One Love Peace Concert.

Bob Marley wasn’t the only member of The Wailers to crossover and have a revolutionary affect on the masses. Peter Tosh definitely needs to be mentioned in an old school reggae draft. I mean how can you ignore this man’s stats when legendary Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones added him to his record label?

I am not a politician, but I suffer the consequences

Peter Tosh One Love Peace Concert
Peter Tosh – Mick Jagger

Talking bout pirate, you all have some likkle pirate now weh come from Merica an’ all bout wid dem camera an dem TV business fi do wah? Get rich offa I an I.

Peter Tosh One Love Peace Concert

Peter Tosh’s rebel nature made it hard for him to reach the worldwide acclaim that Bob Marley reached due to his paranoia of the system whereas Marley always tried to see the positive in the negatives. He’s best known for “Legalize It” which came as a prophesy in Canada recently, Equal Rights, and Johnny B Good. 

Peter Tosh Behind The Music

Jacob Miller was also an artist that made waves and helped contribute greatly to reggae, but had an untimely death. He was against the system as well with chants of “Babylon Babylon Falling Down” at that great One Love Peace concert in the 1970’s.

Gregory Isaacs

One cannot speak of the old school Reggae scene and #1 draft contenders without mentioning perhaps the best vocalist in the bunch. He had a sharp voice that mesmerized people that compete with the best in R & B and soul at the time.

Third World

In the early stages of this new genre was a group named Third World who infused American music of soul, funk, and disco. The group has gone through 16 members and reminds of legendary hip hop groups like Wu Tang Clan for its diversity of members. Bob Marley and The Wailers were the fluence for this entity.

Marcia Griffiths

Now I’m sure there is someone who saying where are the women? Well, there is no doubt they are some who could be a #1 draft pick. As I did with Bob Marley for the males, I will do with the females and announce the top draft pick because it is another easy pick in Marcia Griffiths although Judy Mowatt (who sang with Griffiths as a backup singers for Bob Marley) could be argued. She is undoubtedly “Queen Of Reggae” and gives her history in an interview below to correct some wrong information floating online about her.

As stated with Gregory Isaacs having the best vocals there is a woman who had a voice like no other for melody in Phyllis Dillon. She was known for the women anthem “Woman Of The Ghetto”.

Carlene Davis was one of reggae’s first big draws in the 1960’s. The First Word In Memory Is Me was her biggest hit, but she is also known for being the most consistent reggae voice especially on the album Paradise.

Carlene Davis

Rita Marley gets overlooked because she was in the shadows of my #1 male draft pick, but she definitely could have been a force to reckon with if she was given the task of jumpstarting a new genre of reggae. I have a good feeling that she is quite content in being the matriarch of the Marley dynasty and being the rock that kept Bob Marley grounded in his career.

Portrait of Rita Marley, with her children. Left to right, Sharon Marley, Rita Marley, Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley and Cedella Marley in Central Park, New York City, New York. June 12, 1992. (Photo by Michel Delsol/Getty Images)

I guess we can wrap this up, but not before mentioning the artist that I believe is the closest to being the #1 draft pick if Bob Marley never existed. Jimmy Cliff was not going to be left of this list. He was perhaps the total package who could crossover, maintain the integrity of the reggae artform, and probably start a revolution.

Jimmy Cliff believe it or not made the world know about reggae before Bob Marley. He starred in the cult classic “The Harder They Come” and is a two time Grammy winner. I can’t think of anyone besides Bob Marley who could fit the role of #1 draft pick under the rules of being a new genre that was set forth in the original draft piece about hip hop.  

This has been The Venom with another unfiltered view from the mainstream. Check out my other articles as I leave you with how I started with a Marley continuing the legacy of the #1 draft pick.

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