Words by LargeUp Crew
It was another interesting year for reggae. “Revived” a year ago by the emergence of young upstart acts like Chronixx and Protoje, this year those artists went from outsiders to insiders, continuing their conquering path on the way to becoming some of the genre’s most visible and influential acts. At the same time, a number of veterans returned to form in 2014 with some big tunes, including Damian and Stephen Marley, and Jah Cure. Top productions came from a mixture of old-guard (Sly and Robbie, Shane Brown) and upstart (Winta James, Craig “Giark” Dixon) producers.
Jamaica wasn’t the only place in the Caribbean driving reggae this year—some of the best roots and culture in 2014 came from the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically St. Croix, homebase of I-Grade Records, which released great records by Pressure Busspipe and Midnite. England too brought its fair share of vibes, with artists like Hollie Cook, Randy Valentine and Shuga bringing some very different flavors forward.
After parsing through a year’s worth of one-drop, roots and culture, lovers rock and dubwise tracks, we’ve selected the 14 most essential reggae tunes of 2014.