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A riddim is an instrumental version of a song, which applies to Jamaican music or other forms of Caribbean music. Riddims usually consist of a drum pattern and a prominent bass line. The Jamaican Patois term "riddim" is derived from the English word, rhythm.

Riddims are the instrumental backgrounds of reggae, lovers rock, dub, ragga, dancehall, and sometimes ragga-soca compositions. Also, rare cases in reggaeton, which itself is largely based on the Dem Bow and Poco riddims by Steely & Clevie from the early 1990s, feature a riddim, such as Ivy Queen and Sasha's "Dat Sexy Body," which uses the Bookshelf riddim produced by Tony Kelly of the K-Licious reggae label. In other musical contexts, a riddim would be called a groove or beat. In most cases the term riddim is used in reference to the entire background track or rhythm section, but in older roots riddims, riddim is used to reference a certain bass line and drum pattern. Often a melody is associated with the riddim, and occasionally an artist will produce two different songs with the same riddim (e.g. Elephant Man's "Ele Melody" and "Father Elephant" were both produced using the Kopa riddim, produced by Supa Dups).

Some urban contemporary songs may become riddims as well. The instrumental to Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent" has become a popular riddim; many dancehall artists have recorded songs using the track.


Types of riddims

Riddims can generally be categorized into three types. The oldest type of riddim is the classical riddim providing roots reggae, dub and lovers rock with instrumentals, such as Bam Bam, produced by Sly & Robbie. The second type is the ragga riddim backing raggamuffin and dancehall songs, such as the Juice riddim, produced by Richard "Shams" Browne. The third type is the digital riddim, such as Sleng Teng, produced by King Jammy.

So-called digital riddims refer to riddims created around the time that Jamaican producers incorporated drum machines and synthesizers into reggae-music production. Nowadays, however, most dancehall and Soca riddims are created by electronic instruments, so, in essence, most are digital.


Different producers often develop their own versions of the same riddim, such as the Punanny riddim, which has distinct versions crafted by Steely & Clevie and by Ward 21, and different artists often perform on top of the same riddims with different lyrics and different vocal styles, ranging from singing to toasting. As an example, Beenie Man's song "My Wish," Mr. Vegas' song "Go Up," and T.O.K.'s "Man a Bad Man" are all based on the Juice riddim. Many riddims are named after the song that was recorded on that instrumental track for the first time (or, in some cases, the song that becomes the most popular on a given riddim). For example, the Satta Massagana riddim is named after The Abyssinians' original song "Satta Massagana."

Several notable producers include

Compilation albums

Since 2000, Greensleeves Records has released a series of compilation albums, based on new and occasionally classic riddims, known as Greensleeves Rhythm Album. In 2001, VP Records followed suit, releasing the Riddim Driven series. Also following suit was the Jet Star label, with its Riddim Rider series.

See also

External links



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