Feb. 19, 2021 –  What can’t be doubted is without his singularly musical way with a lyric, toasting in the recording studio might have ended in 1970. U-Roy rode the rhythms with such a playful, tuneful and compulsive energy that it voided any argument that toasting was nothing but somebody shouting over a perfectly good song. He so effortlessly took record buyers across the jump from singing that studios immediately opened their doors to other talents. U-Roy’s importance in reggae’s bloodline cannot be overestimated. When U-Roy was still known as Ewart Beckford, he would sneak out to dances to listen to Count Matchuki and King Stitt toasting Kingston soundsystems and practise his cries of “Wow!” and “Yeah yeah!” in his grandmother’s bathroom. Aged 15, he overcome his shyness to introduce the singers on Dickie’s Dynamic system. A fan of Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, he evolved his jive-talking style to move up in the soundsystem world to the stellar company of Coxsone and King Tubby. As he told it: “I used to practise hard, like a footballer who loves the ball – whenever he wakes up he’s on that ball. That was me – whenever I hear music I started toasting in my head and it was the most joy I could get at that time. The thing was to work with the record, you didn’t want to crowd the singer or t’ing like that. You talked in between the lines, you didn’t have to say much at all, but when you add your bits to a record it became personal to that crowd at that time – their record. A good deejay could make a sound system famous.”



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