2 Tone is a genre of music that combines ska (brought over by waves of Jamaican immigrants to the UK) with certain elements of punk and new wave. Despite the contradicting styles, 2 Tone blends these genres, making for a faster rendition of the ska genre. Many 2 Tone songs are in fact covers of Jamaican songs, such as 'A Message to You, Rudy', 'Monkey Man', and 'Time Hard'. The name comes from the record label of the same name, which was founded by Jerry Dammers, keyboardist of The Specials. Between its music and visuals, 2 Tone became a significant subculture in the British alternative music scene. Fans of 2 Tone are often referred to as Rude Boys (or rudeboy, rudie, rudi, and rudy). Rude Boy came from a slang term that originated from 1960s Jamaican street culture.
Coming along at a time of great upheaval in Thatcher-era Britain, 2 Tone providing youth with an outlet for their discontent and an escape through dancing. Also a key aspect of both the 2 Tone label, music, and the bands themselves was promoting equality and denouncing racism. The checkerboard motif symbolizes a union between the races, and many 2 Tone bands had both black and white members.
- The Specials - Nite Klub
- The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
- The Beat - Ranking Full Stop
- Madness - Night Boat to Cairo
- Bad Manners - Lorraine
- The Bodysnatchers - Do The Rocksteady
Along with ska and rocksteady music, many rude boys favored sharp suits, thin ties, and pork pie or Trilby hats, showing an influence of the fashions of American jazz musicians, soul music artists, and the original Jamaican rude boys themselves. There was some crossover with the mod and skinhead subcultures as well. In later years, the checkerboard motif gained more prominence among ska fans, often adorning various clothes and accessories, perhaps the most popular among latter-day rudies being Vans sneakers.