Document Type


Publication Date

January 2006

Publication Title

Social and Economic Studies


The distinguishing characteristic of most Jamaican popular music recordings, including reggae and its predecessor, ska, is an emphasis on the offbeat or afterbeat instead of on the downbeat, as found in most US pop music. A study is presented that critically examines proposed theories to explain this tendency through historical and musicological analysis and concludes that the prevalence of the downbeat is a mixture of Jamaican folk and African-American pop music influences in its earliest incarnation but was later deliberately emphasized in an attempt to create a unique new musical style.