Who is U-Roy and what were his contributions to music?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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U-Roy is the "stage name" of Ewert Beckford of Jamaica; he is one of the pioneers of what is called toasting: talking or chanting in a rhythmic beat, using a monotone. This is usually done to the music of a song that has had the vocals removed. In the late 1950's this toasting was begun by Count Matchuki, a deejay who would talk over a record, adding his own jokes, or commentaries, or storytelling. Often a song on a record had the other side as the instrumental version, so deejays began toasting using this side of the record. These lyrics are often improvised, but can be laid down. As a toaster, U-Roy is known for his sharp sense of timing and a very melodic way of speaking. This method called toasting is virtually the precursor to rap.


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