This living legend of Jamaican music was the first to make toasting (half-singing rhyming over a rhythm) a worldwide phenomenon. Consequently he is also midwifed rap, as rapping was developed in New York by Jamaicans inspired by U-Roy and his followers. He has stayed active and released several albums in the 2000’s. Pray Fi Di People (2012) skanks in classic roots style with killer players, like Flabba Holt, Horsemouth, Skully and Sly & Robbie.
Ewart “U-Roy” Beckford was born in 1942 in Jonestown, Jamaica, to a musical 7th Day Adventist family, but turned rasta in the 60’s. That same decade he started DJing for Doctor Dickie’s Sound System and worked later in other “Jamaican discos”, too, like the legendary King Tubby’s. In 1970 singer John Holt recommended him to producer Duke Reid after hearing U-Roy toast over his Wear You To The Ball hit. Reid produced U-Roy’s Wake The Town (version of Alton Ellis’ Girl I’ve Got A Date), Rule The Nation (Techniques’ Love Is Not A Gamble) and Wear You… They all topped the Jamaican chart. By the mid-70’s U-Roy was a big reggae star also in UK and US. Josey Wales, I-Roy, Jah Screw, Ranking Joe and many other toasters are his disciples.