Raggamuffin (or ragga) is a kind of reggae rap that includes digitized backing instrumentation. It is a form of dancehall, and has been popular since the middle of the 1980s; "(Under Me) Sleng Teng" (Wayne Smith; 1985) is usually recognized as the first ragga song. The instrumentation is usually behind dub singing, which is similar to rapping in its focus on rhythmic, assonating and rhyming words.
Ragga is the short form of raggamuffin, a term which held its present musical connotations since the late 1980s or beginning of 1990s. The term raggamuffin is derived from the Middle English personal name "Ragamuffyn
", which was usually employed in an insulting manner towards street children. The word later came to mean a person who is shabbily clothed and dirty, often applied to orphans. It was used in this way to describe Kingston ghetto youth, and the youth themselves took on the term to describe their new music.
The name was used early on in album titles by Asher D & Daddy Freddy - "Raggamuffin Hip-Hop" as well as the Daddy Freddy songs "Ragga House" with Simon Harris or "Ragga Rock" with Led Zeppelin.