Harry Goes Green
Why 'U Roy' is the godfather of rap
As promised, an introduction to the work and massive respect due to Mr Ewart Beckford a.k.a U Roy.
The original DJ.
Jamaica late 1960’s
The sound system dances of jamaica have always been the musical arena where pioneering and experimental styles of reggae are born and tested out on a public who will only vote with their feet.
The DJ’s of the time started using their own vocal intro’s over the begining of tracks dropping in shrieks and yelps to give the sound an added edge and to pump up the atmosphere.
U Roy took this one step further,
by adding his own melodies and a using a chatting or talkover style, the tracks took on a totally new and original dimension. with a bit of echo here and a touch of reverb there.
The results were shattering.
Within months any dancehall 45 worth it’s salt had a DJ version on the flip. U Roy had opened the door for any self respecting gunslinger on the block who thought they could deliver the goods.
From the moment U Roy picked up a microphone he was unwittingly laying down the foundations for todays hip-hop, ragga and rap.
The debt owed is huge.
Have you ever heard of him?
The majority of rapid fire vocal driven dance and club mixes released today still copy and sample the style.
U Roy did this years ago.
At the time the massive ‘DJ version’ explosion was confined to jamaica but quickly began to find new fans overseas via imported 45’s and pirate radio play. during the late 70’s it was not unusual to see natty dreads and punk rockers at a west london sound system dance.
With the rising worldwide popularity of bob marley and the emergence of DJ’s such as Big Youth, I Roy, Prince Jazzbo, Dillinger, Dr Alimantado, Jah Stitch and Prince Far I. The music occasionally broke through into the mainstream.
The original masters of the style rarely enjoyed huge commercial success, however the original music has never been unpopular, just difficult to hear by chance.
U Roy was the first and remains the best.
You still don’t believe me?
Try any of the following tracks
Wake The Town
Words Of Wisdom
Treasure Isle Skank
On The Beach
Wear You To The Ball
Chalice In The Palace
Even if you don’t like the music, you will know the truth.
For the true belivers and new disciples, i will lead you on through roots reggae into the mighty kingdom of dub and beyond.
Big up yourselves.
Until next time
Harry Oakey – tMx 22 – 11/05