Many of us were told that the beginning of Hip-Hop started with The Sugar Hill Gang's Rappers Delight. The seven-minute song filled with words broken down by syllables that paired well to an upbeat funk. New York is where it began. The birthplace that is responsible for the late greats such as Grandmaster Flash, Pete Rock, Run DMC and much more who inspired the world. Hip-Hop quickly became a culture that also includes dancing, often referred to as b-boying, and a unique sense of fashion that no one has seen before. This is the only narrative you hear and/or see when you watch documentaries and specials via VH1 that surrounds the Hip-Hop community. Now, what if I told you that the biggest factor was popular elsewhere first; that factor being rapping.
Okay, so I was at the bar, next door to my job when I was introduced to a professor who dabbles in English literature as well as study music. A couple of beers in, we're enjoying the conversation and then it shifts to hip-hop and the islands. A few youtube videos in and I'm sold. I told him that I would be writing about this so he supplies me with a ton of links to further my research with.
At one point rapping was considered surfing the beat, rub-a-dub or better known as riding the rhythm in the early sixties. Becoming the melody with your words, something that Jamaicans had been doing at least a decade prior to its introduction in North America. in 1963 the first ever rap record, Skaiing West, was released by the group Sir Lord Comic and the Cowboys. However, U-Roy, or The Teacher, demonstrated this skill for the masses shortly after and created more of a spark within his community. But his career didn't peak until 1970 when he released Rule the Nation and Wake the Town. The two hits were released from Treasure Isle studios that took him from underground dancehall to mainstream. Dennis Alcapone, another dancehall artist and deejay, was influenced by U-Roy and worked with him around the same time. This style began trending in Jamaica.
Now I'm curious to know how America caught wind of this wave. The members of Sugar Hill were just hitting the twenty mark when Rappers Delight was released in 1980 (recorded in '79). Who introduced them to it. Did any of them grow up with the influence already? Especially with being in NY and knowing how a great deal of people are from the islands or has roots there.
Until then, when you're schooling folks on the origins of Hip-Hop...don't forget to mention Jamaica! I'm out, peace!
*Above is the last of what I've said, reasons why it's in quotations. I've gathered some info that I wanted to add in without excusing the original content.
I went to the same bar, afterwork a bit after I published this post. I've seen plenty of familiar faces, said my hellos and ran into the professor who I've spoke to before. He sat me down, we both grabbed a beer and I asked him the question, "...well, how did rapping migrate to America?". DJ Cool Herc. Yes. My parents told me so much about Herc years ago (They're both hip-hop heads) but I never cared to do my own research on him. DJ Cool Herc is a Jamaican-American who've also been known as the founder of Hip-Hop. He've also coined the term break-boys and break-girls and allowed them to dance during his sets. However, during Hercs sets, instead of letting records play all the way through, he would break-up the records and create a loop. Something later on that DJ's attached themselves to and became inspired by.