The Casio employee that revolutionized reggae #ArtTuesday

The “Sleng Teng” riddim revolutionized reggae music in the mid-1980s, and has spawned hundreds of versions in the decades since then. Less well known is the story of how the distinctive bassline originated in a preset sample included on a Casio electronic keyboard and the work of a young developer fresh out of college.

In 1979, while Okuda Hiroko was working on finishing up her thesis and listening obsessively to reggae music, Bob Marley made his only trip to Japan. Okuda went to see several performances. Soon after the concerts, her eye was caught by an advertisement posted on campus by Casio, which was looking to hire graduates from music colleges for the first time. “I remember the wording on the ad: ‘Developers wanted.’ I thought, that sounds interesting . . .”

What became the Sleng Teng riddim was originally intended as a “rock” rhythm. Why did this rock beat become so popular with Jamaican musicians? Okuda says: “In those days, my head was full of reggae. Even when I was trying to come up with a rock beat, I think it just naturally came out as something that would work in reggae as well.”

You can hear about the roots of Sleng Teng in the video below and read the whole story in the article here.


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