Since the days of Duke Reid and Sir Coxsonne Dodd's clashing sound systems, the music emanating from the tiny island of Jamaica has been a rhythm-led, bass-grounded, sonically singular affair, evolving from ska and rocksteady (itself a slower drawl of the former) in the late '60s into reggae and dub at the turn of the decade. Where reggae drastically differed from its genre predecessors was in its lyrical concerns, mostly detailing the dogma of Rastafarianism, repatriation to Africa and addressing the ills of society.
The extreme poverty and living conditions on the island oftentimes led its inhabitants to leave for Babylonian destinations such as New York City, London and even Toronto in search of better wages, better social services and (as in any immigrant dream) a brighter future. Jamaicans and other West Indians took their music with them, and as reggae spread throughout the world via the music's greatest ambassador Bob Marley so did reggae begin to resound in these new northern climes.
No longer isolated to or rooted in island life, the reggae played on other continents reflects its new locale in subtle but definitive ways. It's unlikely a dub made in Londontown or up in the Bronx will get mistaken for what gets played in Kingston (and many times, it was snubbed for that very reason by purists abroad and back home). Often grittier, more urbane and technologically advanced, with a wider sound palette or slightly more hurried, big-city pace and butting up against and incorporating other musical forms, the reggae created in these far-flung places has a distinct character all its own. Or as another frequent musical visitor to the Caribbean once noted: "Change in latitude, change in attitude."