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Raggamuffin music (or simply ragga) is a subgenre of dancehall and reggae music. The instrumentals primarily consist of electronic music with heavy use of sampling.

Wayne Smith's "Under Mi Sleng Teng", produced by King Jammy in 1985 on a Casio MT-40 synthesizer, is a seminal ragga song. "Sleng Teng" boosted Jammy's popularity immensely, and other producers quickly released their own versions of the riddim, accompanied by dozens of different vocalists.[citation needed]


Ragga originated in Jamaica during the 1980s, at the same time that electronic dance music's popularity was increasing globally. Ragga spread to Europe, North America, and Africa, eventually spreading to Japan, India, and the rest of the world. Ragga heavily influenced early jungle music, and also spawned the syncretistic bhangragga style when fused with bhangra. In the 1990s, ragga and breakcore music fused, creating a style known as raggacore.

The term "raggamuffin" is an intentional misspelling of "ragamuffin", a word that entered the Jamaican Patois lexicon after the British Empire colonized Jamaica in the 17th century.[citation needed] Despite the British colonialists' pejorative application of the term, Jamaican youth appropriated it as an ingroup designation. The term "raggamuffin music" describes the music of Jamaica's "ghetto dwellers".

Ragga and hip hop music[edit]

King Jammy produced 1985 hit, "(Under Me) Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith.[1] In the late 1980s, Jamaican deejay Daddy Freddy and Asher D's "Ragamuffin Hip-Hop" became the first multinational single to feature the word "ragga" in its title.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Katz, David (2014) "Wayne Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng – the song that revolutionised reggae", The Guardian, 20 February 2014
  2. ^ Wynn, Ron "Ragamuffin Hip-Hop Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  • The world of DJs and the turntable culture By Todd Souvignier
  • Stascha (Staša) Bader: Worte wie Feuer: Dancehall Reggae und Raggamuffin. Words Like Fire. Dancehall Reggae and Raggamuffin. Dissertation Thesis at the Zurich University, 1986. Buchverlag Michael Schwinn, Neustadt, Deutschland, 1. Aufl. 1988, 2. Aufl. 1992
  • René Wynands: Do The Reggae. Reggae von Pocomania bis Ragga und der Mythos Bob Marley. Pieper Verlag und Schott. 1995 ISBN 3-492-18409-X (Pieper), ISBN 3-7957-8409-3 (Schott) Online-Version
  • Norman C. Stolzoff: Wake the Town and Tell the People. Dancehall Culture in Jamaica. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8223-2478-4

External links[edit]