Reid was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and had a tough upbringing in the city’s Waterhouse district, notorious for being one of the most dangerous places in Jamaica. It was there in the politically turbulent late ’70s that he recorded his first-ever single “Speak the Truth” at the age of 13 for the late Hugh Mundell, released in Jamaica on Augustus Pablo’s Rockers International label, and popular as an import single in the United Kingdom. UK label Greensleeves Records followed this with “Know Myself” in 1981. He then went on to form his own band, the Voice of Progress, and after a local hit with “Mini-Bus Driver” the group scored local success with an album of the same name.
By the early ’80s, commissioned by the great Sugar Minott to record a number of tunes on Minott’s Youth Promotion label, enjoying considerable popularity with tracks such as “Human Nature” (produced by Junior Reid), “A1 Lover” (produced by Sugar Minnott), and the evergreen “Foreign Mind”, an uplifting and proud statement which became an anthem to the ghetto youth whom Reid increasingly championed. Junior Reid transferred his talents to King Jammy’s studio on St. Lucia Road where his fast-growing success rose yet another notch. “Boom Shacka Lacka” was his first UK hit and led to another exceptional album. After a number of fine singles – which included “Youthman”, “Bank Clerk”, “Sufferation”, “Give Thanks and Praises” and “Higgler Move”. Reid then launched his label “Jr Productions” with his first single “Settle Down” by Barrington Levy. His opportunity to then reach a wider international audience came with the offer to be the lead singer in Black Uhuru. Always a strong follower of Black Uhuru, and with a similar vocal style, Reid took the group to another level. Three of the singles he did with Black Uhuru “Pain”, “Nah Get Rich and Switch”, and “Let us Pray” were released on Junior Reid’s label JR Productions. The collaboration on his first Black Uhuru album, the Grammy-nominated Brutal, in 1986, was well received by all and during the time he was with Black Uhuru they toured Europe, the UK, The USA, Canada and Bermuda. Two years and three albums later, Junior’s interest to produce material for himself, and desire to regain his domestic popularity, drove him into the solo arena and into his own studio (One Blood Recording Studio), as well as focusing on his own label JR Productions. Reid had a number 21 hit in the UK in 1988 with the collaboration with Coldcut, “Stop This Crazy Thing”. He had an even bigger hit in 1990, with “I’m Free”, recorded with The Soup Dragons, reaching number 5. Meanwhile, 1989’s “One Blood” saw him re-established at the forefront of the reggae scene. “One Blood” became an anthem for unity in America and around the world. According to Rolling Stonemagazine (May 7, 2013), the lyrics of “One Blood” were the source of the album title for Vampire Weekend’s third release, Modern Vampires of the City.
His vocals have been used in the hip hop scene, which debuted as a collaboration on the songs “One Blood Under W” and “Jah World” from The W album by the Wu-Tang Clan, which was released on 21 November 2000. His next collaboration with Guru on the song “Mashing Up the World” on the album “Jaz Mattaz”. In 2006, he collaborated with West Coast hip hop artist Game on the song “It’s Okay (One Blood)”; The song also samples Reid’s 1989 single “One Blood”. The song hit the top of the billboards and it was also included in the video game Def Jam: Icon for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The song was then remixed again and the official remix was released on November 7, 2006. It features 25 hip-hop artists including The Game.
Reid appeared on the Blackout remix of Mims’ “This Is Why I’m Hot” from his debut album M.I.M.S. (Music Is My Savior). This was one of the more popular remixes made in 2007. He recently did a song with Jim Jones, Max B and Mel Matrix called “What A Gwan”, which features a sample from Barrington Levy’s “Black Roses”. Reid is on Fabolous’s album From Nothin’ to Somethin’ on the track “Gangsta Don’t Play” and he has collaborated with Fat Joe on the track “More Money”. He appeared on the remix of Smitty’s song “Died In Your Arms” also featuring Rick Ross and T-Pain. In late 2007 he performed in the “Freedom Concert” in Port Harcourt, Nigeria and also went on to record the remix version of “Free” with The Indispensibles, a Nigerian hip hop duo. Reid was also proudly featured on the track “Fire” from San Francisco-based DJ and deep house producer Miguel Migs’ 2007 album “Those Things.”