Apple’s Top 100 Albums & Their Impact on the California Reggae Scene

Apple’s Top 100 Albums & Their Impact on the California Reggae Scene

The reggae scene that exists in California today is a rich tapestry woven from diverse musical influences that span a multitude of genres and decades. The eclectic sounds are unique in their own right while simultaneously reminiscent of the greats that have come before them.

by Mia Moore

Apple’s Top 100 Best Albums highlights some of those iconic chunes that have lent a hand and an ear to the vibe and energy that we know and love today. At the heart of the scene lies the indomitable spirit of Bob Marley, whose albums such as “Exodus” and “Legend” serve as the cornerstone of all reggae music, echoing the energy of unity and resilience.

Bob’s revolutionary spirit is matched by the groundbreaking sounds of The Wailers’ “Catch a Fire” and “Burnin’”, which infused reggae with rock influences and brought the message of Jah to the shores of the West Coast of California.

Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” so beautifully bridges hip-hop and R&B with the irie vibes of reggae, which undoubtedly inspired many artists to blend genres to create new sounds. Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” and “Innervisions” created a container for addressing social issues through music, a trait deeply embedded in reggae’s ethos. The experimental edge of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Downward Spiral” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer” have pushed boundaries by incorporating electronic elements and inspiring sounds such as The Expendables and Iya Terra.

The cross-cultural influences of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and the genre-blending magic of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” showcase how diverse musical traditions enrich the dynamic and ever-evolving scene that is California Reggae. Curtis Mayfield’s “Super Fly” soundtrack and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” provide soulful, socially conscious blueprints that resonate with the passion of reggae’s lyrical content. The rebellious spirit of The Clash’s “London Calling” and the genre fusion it represents have also left a significant mark. These diverse influences have shaped bands like Rebelution, Stick Figure, and Dirty Heads by integrating elements from these influential albums into their unique reggae sounds.

Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” revolutionized hip-hop, and clearly impacted California’s reggae with their rhythm and production techniques. Slightly Stoopid and Dirty Heads, in particular, blend reggae with hip-hop beats and rap verses, while Rebelution integrates smooth, rhythmic flows reminiscent of West Coast hip-hop into their reggae sound, reflecting the impact of these iconic albums. Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique” encourages sampling and innovation, while Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” and David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” push musical expression and performance boundaries reminiscent of the sounds that permeate the entirety of the scene in 2024.

Together, these albums form a mosaic of influences that have shaped the California reggae scene while fostering a spirit of experimentation, social consciousness, and genre fusion that continues to inspire artists and audiences alike. We give thanks to this diverse musical heritage which has led to the dynamic and ever-evolving sound. The sound that continually brings crowds of strangers together to leave as one unified spirit in the name of Community and Unity!