Lost Inheritance of the UK Sound System and Reggae scene

Roy Wallace, Daniel Johnson

Research output: Non-Textual OutputDigital or Visual Media


Wallace, R. and Johnson, D. (2018) Sounds of oppression: the lost inheritance of the UK reggae scene. Paper presented to: Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture International Conference, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, 04-05 April 2018.

The history of the reggae sound system inheritance passed down through generations in various music styles (Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dancehall and various sub-genres where it has fused with other cultures). The words and phrases describe the same fight concerning social exclusion within the Black diaspora. The crisis in mainstream UK Reggae scene concerns the ‘invisibility’ of Reggae music or lack of recognition where elements of the culture are being used within the mainstream entertainment and media outlets. Reggae and Sound system culture is also undervalued within the African-Caribbean culture with the essence of the cultural practices now stigmatised or diminished in favour of contemporary music genres and commercial interests focused on celebrity.

We would argue that the musical legacy should give recognition to the ‘roots’ of the Reggae and sound systems within Jamaican culture which has been replaced by commercial rather than authentic interests in the practices. Often those from the authentic origins are easily exploited and replaced in mainstream UK media by ‘sanitised’ celebrities which could be viewed as institutional racism working to exclude the authentic voices in Reggae.

In this twenty-minute video essay we will explore some potential alternatives to current trends and examine what steps might be required to return ‘The Lost Inheritance of the UK Reggae scene’ to its righteous place in contemporary UK culture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham
PublisherUniversity of Birmingham
Media of outputOnline
Size22m 58s
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018
EventGlobal Studies Association (GSA) - University of Northampton, Northampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 May 20171 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Also presented at Global Studies Association (GSA) Conference held at The University of Northampton, 31 May - 01 June 2018. See: https://globalstudiesassoc.wordpress.com


  • Reggae
  • Sound System Culture
  • Jamaica
  • Caribbean
  • ska
  • Sleng Teng
  • Rastafarian
  • Windrush Generation


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