U-Roy

Super Boss: The Great Treasure Isle Collection, Vol. 1

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In the '70s, some reggae enthusiasts felt that dubwise was too esoteric for the more casual reggae fans -- they reasoned that soulsters and rockers who were just starting to discover reggae would have an easier time getting into Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff or Desmond Dekker than toasters like U-Roy, I-Roy, Big Youth, I-Jah Man and King Tubby. But when dubwise gave way to the more abrasive dancehall style in the '80s, many hip-hoppers proved more receptive to toasting than mainstream reggae singing. Dancehall, of course, never would have come about had it not been for the innovations of U-Roy, one of the most influential dubwise toasters of the late '60s and '70s. This 27-song CD focuses on the essential recordings that he made at the Treasure Isle Recording Studio in Kingston, Jamaica in the late '60s and '70s. Classics such as "On the Beach," "Wear You to the Ball" and "Flashing My Whip" (not to mention his spin on the Paragons' "The Tide Is High") were certainly radical for their time -- though he employs some singers, U-Roy himself wasn't actually singing, but rather, was toasting over an instrumental rhythm track. This voice-over-records technique would become a staple of the hip-hop culture that emerged in New York in the late '70s, when the early rappers first rapped to the turntable techniques of Grandmaster Flash and Kool DJ Herc. Unfortunately, Super Boss doesn't give either the recording dates or even the years in which the selections were recorded. But as frustrating as that is, this CD would be a welcome addition to one's reggae library. U'Roy's innovations helped to pave the way for everyone from Yellowman and Michigan & Smiley to Shabba Ranks and Lt. Stitchie, and his importance cannot be denied.

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