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Informer: A Brief History of Canadian Reggae

From Jackie Mittto’s Studio One Sound to Bryan Adams’ “Reggae Christmas” and Magic!’s new “Rude”

Canadian Reggae

Johnny Nunez/WireImage; Toronto Public Library

Magic!’s debut single “Rude” isn’t just the first Canadian track to top the U.S. Hot 100 since Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” — it’s the biggest Canadian reggae hit since Snow’s 1994 “Informer.” To someone outside the country, this combination of place and genre might seem oxymoronic, but as it turns out, Canadian reggae goes back nearly a half-century. With respect to those artists who didn’t make the list – Bonjay, the Sattalites and Earth, Roots and Water are all notable omissions – and side-eyes in the direction of some of those who did, here’s a brief history of its first 50 years.

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Loved by radio programmers in search of light-hearted summer fare and hated by critics in need of a risk-free opinion, Magic!'s "Rude" is a three-minute-and-45-second roots reggae jam written by the same evil geniuses – Nasri Atweh and Adam Messinger – who once got us to hum along to a Chris Brown single called "Don't Judge Me." It goes like this: Nasri plays a cutie but "a leather jacket and long-hair" kind of cutie, the guy that the Shangri-Las' parents warned them about only trapped in a song that your own parents are guaranteed to love. He's thinking about getting serious, though, so he shows up at his girlfriend's dad's door and asks for her hand in marriage. Dad says no, Nasri says (don't judge him) "Why you gotta be so rude?" and just like that, the couple elopes – away from their suburb and into the annals of Canadian reggae history. N.M.

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