Toppa Top 15: Edward Seaga Selects 15 Jamaican Music Classics

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Words by Edward Seaga, Daddy Lion Chandell, Donald Clive Davidson and Roy Black—

Edward Seaga Golden Jubilee

Whatever your views of Edward Seaga‘s politics, his contributions to Jamaica’s dynamic music industry are indisputable. Jamaica’s fifth prime minister founded one of the country’s first homegrown record labels, West India Records Limited (WIRL), releasing records by Slim Smith, Joe Higgs and Byron Lee (who would later buy and re-brand WIRL as Dynamic Sounds) before entering politics. While serving in Jamaica’s parliament in 1964, Seaga helped pave the way for ska’s international crossover, arranging for Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Byron Lee and others to perform at the New York World’s Fair. His fondness for the music even earned him the nickname “Ska-aga.”

The VP Records release Reggae Golden Jubilee—Origins of Jamaican Music, out today, celebrates 50 years of Jamaican independence by gathering 100 of the most significant songs released in that time, as selected by the former PM. We asked Selector Seaga to choose the 10 most significant Jamaican songs from that period included on the discs. Finding that he simply couldn’t narrow things down to an even 10, he gave us 15 of his top picks, included here along with the liner notes that appear in the CD booklet, co-written by Seaga with Daddy Lion Chandell, Donald Clive Davidson and Roy Black.

We have to say that we are a bit surprised by some of the choices for the Toppa Top picks: Who knew Seaga rated Buju and Beenie so highly, or followed reggae right up through Tarrus Riley’s “She’s Royal” and Etana’s “Roots”? Read on for Seaga’s Top 15 (and check the full tracklist here.)

*NOTE: The selections in the countdown reflect the views of Edward Seaga, and not LargeUp. This list was compiled from among the songs licensed for the Reggae Golden Jubilee compilation. Though many of Jamaica’s most notable tunes are included on the album, some were unavailable for licensing.

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