hip hop music

June 18, 2009

Please Stop Calling Everyone and Their Mother "The First Rapper"

Here we go again with this:

Rap originator U-Roy finally gets respect where respect is

Fresh from headlining 25 concerts in Europe last month, U-Roy is resting back home in Jamaica before the next leg of his endless world tour, which brings the Godfather - the living legend who invented modern rap - to the all-new Montreal International Reggae Festival next week...

...U-Roy would cement his place in music history with the world's first rap record, his 1969 remix with Duke Reid of the Paragons' Wear You to the Ball...

"...No, they [American rappers] don't pay enough respect," U-Roy says. "They think they are the ones who originated rap and I never heard of a rapper in America in the 1930s [unless] you wanted to copy Louis Prima. But those singers were not rappers. It was started down here in Jamaica...

...Contemporary reggae rappers from Bounty Killer to Elephant Man, as well as all American rappers from Grandmaster Flash to Eminem, owe a huge debt to U-Roy.

No. I'm sorry but no. U-Roy is a legend and an all-time great. But just because he says he invented rap doesn't make it so.. Bernard Purdie also says he played on half the Beatles records, and Marley Marl says he invented Miami Bass. But you'll never see a competent music writer cite those dubious boasts as fact.

And unlike those examples there isn't even room for reasonable doubt on U-Roy inventing rap. Because he didn't. Nor did he make the first rap record. (The correct answer is Rapper's Delight and/or King Tim III, fight that one out amongst yourselves.)

U-Roy may be one of rap's predecessors, and among the influences that laid the foundation for rap, but he did not invent it...any more than Jocko Henderson, Gil Scott Heron, Lord Buckley or the West African Griots invented it. All of them may be forefathers, but none are the inventors. And muddling their places in music history with his sort of specious, sloppy revisionism does hip-hop AND its forefathers a disservice.

And by the way, Grandmaster Flash was not a rapper. For gods sake. Where are my heart pills.

Posted by jsmooth995 at June 18, 2009 1:00 AM

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