Song of the Day: U-Roy “Jah Son of Africa”
Twenty years ago I wandered into one of my local thrift stores here in DC just after someone had dropped off a large reggae collection. This wasn’t any reggae collection, it was around one hundred LPs and singles (all in perfect shape) by Lee “Scratch” Perry, Big Youth, Horace Andy, Burning Spear, King Tubby, and U-Roy among others, all giants of Jamaican music. I brought home 96 records that day and they remain some of my favorites to this day. One LP which really grabbed me was U-Roy‘s Jah Son of Africa from 1978. Not a rare record by any means but it is all time classic Jamaican record.
U-Roy, born Ewart Beckford in 1942, was one of the first toasters in Jamaican music and is widely acknowledged to the best ever. Toasting, or talking/singing over a rhythm (riddim) track, started in the dancehalls of Jamaica in the 1970’s and was a direct forerunner to rapping. No toasting, no hip-hop. U-Roy still records today!
On this song, the title track, U-Roy toasts over a Sly and Robbie rhythm for over seven and half minutes and never lets up. Take a trip to Africa…