"I first heard reggae music while I was on vacation with my family down in the Florida Keys," says Badda Skat. "I was probably 9 years old or so at the time. I remember it fully captivating me, and I had to learn more... Once I heard the word 'Rastafari' in a Bob Marley song, that's when it truly took me over and became my life. Reggae music and I were destined to be connected. Reggae chose me."
Badda, a white dude from Tampa born Aaron Ugosmith, is no gimmick. He breathes and lives reggae with the conviction of a religious zealot. Emerging from the underground and internet dancehall communities of the early 2000s into Tampa's music scene at large, Badda has been diligent in his pursuit of craft.
Blending traditional reggae with dub, roots, and dancehall styles, Badda's grown a fan base within his hometown as well as global pockets where reggae has a steady audience. "Tampa has always had a big music scene, just never a big reggae music scene," he says. "With the growth of the reggae-rock sound, this has changed, and people are more open and receptive to roots music. When I started, though, there were maybe four or five bands that even played any reggae songs in their set."
With a mission of positivity embedded into his work, Badda has worked tirelessly to create a large body of music with various associates. He's released a few albums. The most recent, Mi Jacaranda, is available on vinyl, while the majority of his recorded output is available on his website.
Because he's fully immersed into the reggae lifestyle, it's tough to fault Badda for affecting an accent, since in the end, his message is one of positivity and betterment."Reggae music is built off of the heartbeat, so people can't help but be drawn to it," he says. "It's a frequency that is felt in every cell of your body. This makes reggae music very powerful, and this power is best used for positive intentions."
An avid cyclist, Badda also takes to heart the naturalism of the lifestyle and the power of its light-bringing freedom where there is oppression. "We can't keep singing about the same subject matter and expect there to be any growth within humanity," he says. "People are becoming aware of their consciousness and how this applies to their physical lives. This needs to be nurtured, enhanced, and given full light."
Lake Worth Reggae Fest
With Badda Skat, Matisyahu, Black Uhuru, and others. 6 p.m. Friday, April 8, and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Bryant Park Amphitheater, 100 S. Golfview Road, Lake Worth. General-admission tickets cost $15 plus fees, VIP tickets cost $65, and two-day packages are available. Visit ticketmaster.com.