Popular World Music
Explore More

Rock Steady

Rock steady became the musical outlet for the rude boys to express their civil discontent and rebel image. Sound-system operators, who sometimes hired "rudies" to crash competing parties, and rock steady recording artists, such as Alton Ellis, incorporated lyrics that reflected the rude-boy values: sharp suits and a "rude" (Jamaican slang for "cool" or "hip") attitude. The musical qualities also shifted to emphasize a more relaxed rhythm and streamlined instrumentation, which was considered more "rude," conveying confidence and a calmness under pressure. Like ska, the skank syncopation sounded on every pulse; however, the tempo of rock steady slowed to a walking pace that made it easier to "groove," whether vertically (as in dancing) or horizontally (that is, sex).