Reggae is a complex Afro-Jamaican twentieth-century musical phenomenon that has profoundly influenced global popular musical culture. As a genre of modern black cultural production, reggae music dates from the 1970s, when it emerged from the musical confluence of ska and rock steady, two forms born in early postcolonial Jamaica. As a cultural practice in Jamaican postcolonial society, reggae was closely tied to subaltern representations of slavery, colonialism, history, and Africa. As a consequence in many instances reggae became a counter-hegemonic practice critiquing the formal Jamaican Creole nationalist project of political independence.
Ska was a 1960s musical synthesis that ruptured the Jamaican musical form known as mento, which emerged from the encounter between European colonialism, racial plantation slavery, and the slave African population. Mento adapted and morphed the harmonic structures, instrumentation, and melodies of European musical styles into indigenous sounds.