In the late 50s and early 60s, Jamaican musicians combined the musical stylings of a Jamaican folk style called mento with American Jazz, especially R&B, to form ska. Ska was similar to R&B in that the drum beats were emphasized on the second and fourth beats. By 1966 the songs and tempo began to slow down to a style called rocksteady and by 1968 the tempo switched again and the one-drop rhythm came to form and reggae was born.
From the very start, Reggae began to be influenced by Jamaica's Rastafari religion. This doesn't mean that every Reggae musician is a Rasta, but ever since Bob Marley spread Jamaica's national sound around the world, Reggae and Rasafari have almost become one- much like the music and marijuana. Jamaican music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 70s is called roots reggae. Many other styles began to emerge out of roots reggae including rockers, a late '70s variant characterized by the high-hat heavy "flying cymbals" sound, and the U.K.-birthed lover's rock, a style heavy with romance capitalized on by crooners like Gregory Isaacs.
The Reggae music has also spread beyond the borders of Jamaica to inspire musicians worldwide. It spread to Australian Aboriginal bands to Western superstars like Elvis Costello and the Police. What started as scrappy music from a smaller island called Jamaica is now a major part of the world's musical vocabulary.
An example of Reggae music is: