Infobox musical artist
Name = U-Roy
| Img_capt =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Ewart Beckford
Alias = The Originator
Born = Birth date and age|1942|9|21|df=y
Origin = Jones Town,
Years_active = 1961 – present
U-Roy (born Ewart Beckford, OD,
21 September 1942, Jones Town, Jamaica) is a Jamaican musician, also known as The Originator. He is best known as a pioneer of toasting, a precursor to rapping.
U-Roy's musical career began in 1961 when he began
deejaying at various sound systems, including a stint operating Sir Coxsone Dodd's Number Two set, while King Stitt "The Ugly One" ran the main set, eventually working in the late 1960s with King Tubby, at Duke Reid's Sound System. Tubby was then experimenting with his equipment, in the process of inventing dub music. With U-Roy as his most prominent deejay, and with access to some of the Treasure Isle Studios' finest rocksteady rhythms, King Tubby's new sound became extraordinarily popular and U-Roy became a Jamaican celebrity. However, his first single was "Earth's Rightful Ruler", recorded with Peter Tosh for Lee Perry. He recorded "Dynamic Fashion Way", his first successful recording, in 1969 for Keith Hudsonand then worked with almost every producer on the island: Lee Perry, Peter Tosh, Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, Sonia Pottinger, Rupie Edwards, Alvin Ranglinand Lloyd Daley.
In 1970, Jamaican singer John Holt became enamoured of U-Roy's technique. Working with
Duke Reid, U-Roy's fame grew through a series of singles, including " Wake the Town" and "Wear You to the Ball".
U-Roy's success continued throughout the 1970s, perhaps most famously with the album "Dread in a Babylon", produced by "prince Tony Robinson, and its iconic picture of him disappearing in a thick cloud of cannabis smoke while holding a chalice. Indeed, there was also a song called "Chalice in the Palace", in which he fantasised about smoking with
Queen Elizabeth IIin Buckingham Palace. U-Roy had become one of the island's biggest stars by the early 1980s, also garnering significant acclaim in the United Kingdom.
His most recent album was 2000's "Serious Matter" [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:dvftxqekldte] .
U Roy was awarded the
Order of Distinctionin the rank of Officer on October 15, 2007. [ [http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/lifestyle/html/20071015T230000-0500_128382_OBS_ARTISTES_PRESENTED_WITH_NATIONAL_AWARDS.asp Artistes presented with national awards - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM ] ]
Ewart Beckford began his career in his teens in 1961 as a DJ. U-Roy would select the music and sing over the sound system, trying to motivate the dancing audience. Calling himself, “your ace from outer space”, in 1969 this 28-year-old Jamaican welder revolutionized the music world. Even though U-Roy was not the first microphone artist, he gave a completely new taste to dancehall and recorded music. U-Roy helped start a style known as “toasting”, rapping over “versions” of popular songs remixed by
dub musicpioneer King Tubby. This style of music has now influenced the very popular American hip-hop movement. Modern artists such as Kanye Westand Public Enemy have made great songs with the style of toasting. Considered one of Jamaica's first rap stars, "U-Roy raised the art of toasting to new heights. He didn't just spit a few phrases here and there, he rode the riddimfrom the starting gate to the last furlong." [Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall," In The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 350-7. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.] U-Roy worked with Duke Reid making a remix of the Paragon’s “Wear You to the Ball,” which became the first rap record in 1969. For the first time in Jamaica, the radio stations seemed to be in agreement as far as the top three songs in Jamaica are concerned… U-Roy is not a singer. He plays no musical instruments. He just makes the sounds that create excitement when the music goes round. U-Roy should never be overlooked when speaking about rapping over remixed tracks because he was the pioneer of this long-lasting style.
* [Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall," In The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 354-355. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.]
* [http://www.smokeyroom.net/u-roy Smokeyroom's Version Galore]
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:aifrxqq5ldte~T1 U-Roy biography at the
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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