The Riddims That Hit ’em: The Best Reggae Riddims

Over the next several weeks we will focus on Jamaican reggae riddims.  In reggae, riddim is king and queen, alpha and omega.  So today I have included 10 of my favorite reggae riddims.  It was torture coming up with these 10 because there are so many others that should be on this list.  I could have done a Top 10 list for productions from Roy Cousins’ or Augustus Pablo or Lee “Scratch” Perry or Linval Thompson or Roots Radics or Sly and Robbie….there are so many top notch riddims to choose from.  But here is my list for today.

So over the next several weeks some of our friends will be dropping by to share their lists.

Stay tuned for Steve Barrow‘s Top 10 riddims coming at you on Monday!

Dennis Brown “Song My Mother Used To Sing” (Produced by Herman Lin-Choy)


Professor and Roots Radics “Combination.”  Produced by Rodguel “Blackbeard” Sinclair.  As my good friend Inyaki Yarruto of Basque Dub Foundation pointed out to me this is actually the “Every Tongue Shall Tell” riddim.  Honestly, I never made the connection until he brought it up!  You can also check this one on Ring Craft Posse’s “Waterford.”  Check the version here on Little John & Billy Boyo’s ‎“What You Want To Be (Disc Jockey).”  Just murderous!


Viceroys “Can’t Stop Us Now” (Produced by Linval Thompson).  Roots Radics in top form here on a brilliant Linval Thompson production.  Also check Scientist’s mix on “Vampire Initiative.”


Ini Kamoze “World-A-Music” (performed by Sly and Robbie).  Already a masterpiece, Damian Marley’s use of the riddim in 2005’s “Welcome To Jamrock” made it one for the history books.


Delroy Wilson “Run, Run.”  One of the great reggae riddims of all time.  Produced by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd for Studio One, Dennis Alcapone deconstructed it on his album Forever Version.


Yabby You (Vivian Jackson) “Jah Vengeance.”  This stunner, which was produced and arranged by Vivian Jackson, was featured most recently on several Mad Professor productions:  Cedric Myton’s “Jah Lightning”/”Dub Lightning” and “Jah Vengeance” by Aisha.


Lee Van Cleef “Water Gone.”  Another stroke of brilliance from Linval Thompson and the Roots Radics you can also check this Channel One heavyweight on The Viceroys “Rising In The Strength of Jah” and Eek-A-Mouse’s “Christmas-A-Come.”  Scientist also versions it on “Life.”


Augustus Pablo “Africa Must Be Free By 1983” (performed by Hugh Mundell).  It is Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson’s work on the keys that really takes this track to another level.  So many crucial Pablo riddims on Mundell’s timeless debut its hard to choose just one.  “Ital Sip.” “Day of Judgement.”  “My Mind.” 


The Upsetters “Dread Lion”  (Produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry).  Inyaki also pointed out that “Dread Lion” is actually on the “Concrete Castle King” riddim.  I could have easy listed 10 Scratch & Upsetters riddims as my favorites.  One of the most talented and prolific geniuses the world has ever known.


Sly and Robbie “Speak Softly”/“Dub Softly” (Performed by Lacksley Castell).  A masterpiece in every way.  Every note exactly where it should be.  So striking that you will remember where you where and what you were doing the very first time you heard it.

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