Black Uhuru @ The Independent

Some bands are so vital to the history of their genre that it would be almost blasphemous if you didn’t know who they were. No true rock fan doesn’t own an album by Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix, just like no legit folk fanatic can’t quote a song from Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan. The same goes for reggae. If you’re a real rasta or roots acolyte, you’re familiar not only with Bob Marley — I mean, duh — but with Black Uhuru as well. Formed in Jamaica in 1972, Black Uhuru made a name for itself by combining traditional reggae tropes, such as lyrics about social justice and Afrocentrism, with hints of dub and electropop instrumentation, like synthesizers. Widely lauded as being ahead of its time, the band won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985, and to this day is still making music and touring. For an introductory course on Black Uhuru, listen to three of their top hits, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” “What Is Life,” and “Chill Out.” Decades old, these laidback, funkified tunes still have a contemporary sound to them, which just goes to show you how well the band’s music has aged.

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