Jamaican Music

Top 15 Reggae Protest Songs

Written by Stan Evan Smith

Reggae songs are lyrical poetry of “Rebellion”. Picking a top 15 Jamaican/Reggae Protest songs was difficult because of the many great songs that fall in this category. As the world first purely rebel protest music Jamaican music and social protest is an ingrained in the country’s history. Check out my picks and let us know which Jamaican/Reggae Protest Songs you think are missing from this list?

1. Get Up, Stand Up- Catch A Fire – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in 1973, “Get Up, Stand Up” is one of the most popular anthemic protest songs of all time. Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right, Get Up, Stand Up, don’t give up the fight…. If you know what life is worth, you would look for your on earth, now you see the light, stand up for your right, Life is right, so you can’t give the fight

2.  Burnin’ and Lootin aka ‘Curfew’ -Bob Marley and the Wailers – Burnin’
“This morning   I woke up in a curfew, oh god I was a prisoner too, did not recognize the face standing over me, they were all dress in uniforms of brutality, how many rivers do we have to cross before we can talk to the boss? All that we got, it seems we have lost. We must have really paid the cost.”

3. Revolution – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Natty Dread- Its lyrics are strong and powerful
It takes a revolution to make a solution, too much confusion, so much frustration!”
I don’t want to live in the park can’t trust no shadow after dark, so my friend, I wish that you could see like a bird in the tree the prisoners must be free’.

4. Sonny’s lettah (anti-sus poem) 1979
Linton Kwesi Johnson
A poignant story, beautifully told. LKJ’s poem also captures the anger at the sus laws which led in 1981 to the Brixton riots.
5. Satisfaction- Carl’ Dawkins
‘ let me tell you truthfully, about this good world and me , I want peace of mind don’t you see, I gonna it, I know that I will, satisfaction won’t come until, don’t you fret now, I have got love yet, I have got this faith within me, just you wait a minute

6. Get Together – Carl’ Dawkins 
Give me the right love, lord, make me feel the bright glow, they might to hold us back, but here’s … one natural fact, to stop yourself from being who you are, color nor creed shouldn’t make no bar. Come together, stick together we are birds of one father’

7. One Blood 1990 – Junior Reid

Rousing Jamaican anti-racist anthem.

Modern vampire of the city, Hunting blood blood blood ““““`
Yuh coulda come from Libya or yuh come from ‘merica
Coulda come from Europe or yuh come from AFRICA
One blood one blood one blood
Yuh coulda be Irishman or a Englishman
Coulda be a Mexican or a wedda Indian
One blood one blood one blood
8. Equal Rights –  Peter Tosh’s 
‘Everyone is crying out for peace, none is crying out for justice, I don’t want to peace; I need equal rights and justice’ just give me my share
9. Unchained – Bob Andy
Just take these chains away and set me free, remove me out of bondage we’ll agree, too long I have bee a slave, I don’t want to be no more, I would rather dig my grave than be locked behind a door, ….Whether you are black, Whether you are white,…Oh, won’t you set me, set me free?

Please, unchain me, take these chains away, Why won’t you set me free?

Please, just take these chains away and set me free. …
10. My Time – Bob Andy
‘My resistance is getting weaker, I just can’t stand the pressure, I can’t be any meeker I have got to find some other treasure, I need nothing to be a man, because I was born a man, and deserve the right to live, just like any other man. Experience has taught me wisdom,

Thank God I’ve got some life left. I’m getting out of serfdom, My soul has stand the test.
11. Revolution – Dennis  Brown 
Do you know what it means to have a revolution, and what is take to make a solution, fighting against oppression, battering down depression, Are you ready to stand up and fight the right revolution, Are you ready to stand up and fight just like soldiers

12. Better Must Come – Wilson, Delroy 
I have trying a long long time, still I can’t make it, everything I try to do seem to go wrong… It seems I have done something wrong why there are trying to keep me down Who god bless no man curse, thank god iam not the worse Better must come one day

13. Putting Up Resistance – Hammond, Beres

14. I’ve got to Go Back Home – Bob Andy

15. Them belly full (but we hungry) 1975 – Bob Marley and the Wailers
A hungry mob is an angry mob
Which Protest Reggae Songs do you think is missing from this list? We want to hear from you! Tell us by leaving a comment below.

About the author

Stan Evan Smith

Senior Editor and North East Media Coordinator for Jamaicans.com