Deejay (Jamaican)

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Deejay (alternatively spelled DJ) is a term in Jamaican music for a reggae or dancehall musician who sings and "toasts" to an instrumental riddim (rhythm).

Deejays are not to be confused with disc jockeys from other music genres like hip-hop, where they select and play music. Dancehall/reggae DJs who select riddims to play are called selectors. Deejays who are more likely to sing are sometimes called singjays.

The term deejay came about as a result of the act of some selectors (as they were called) of the 60s and 70s such as U-Roy or King Stitt toasting to the version side of popular records of the time. The version came about when the record company produced the 45 record with the song, the flip side of which had the instrumental version of the song. This gave the deejays the chance to make up on-the-fly lyrics to the instrumental music. This occurrence gave rise to deejay toasting and the term has been used in that context ever since.

Toasting[edit]

Toasting, chatting, or deejaying is the act of talking or chanting, usually in a monotone melody, over a rhythm or beat by a deejay. Traditionally, the method of toasting originates from the griots of Caribbean calypso and mento tradition.[1] The lyrics can be either be improvised or pre-written.

Toasting has been used in various African traditions, such as griots chanting over a drum beat, as well as in Jamaican music forms, such as Ska, reggae, dancehall, and dub. Toasting is also often used in soca and bouyon music. Toasting's mix of talking and chanting may have influenced the development of MCing in US hip hop music. The combination of singing and toasting is known as singjaying.

In the late 1950s deejay toasting was developed by Count Machuki.[2] He conceived the idea from listening to disc jockeys on American radio stations. He would do American jive over the music while selecting and playing R&B music. Deejays like Count Machuki working for producers would play the latest hits on traveling sound systems at parties and add their toasts or vocals to the music. These toasts consisted of comedy, boastful commentaries, half-sung rhymes, rhythmic chants, squeals, screams, and rhymed storytelling.[3]

Osbourne Ruddock (aka King Tubby) was a Jamaican sound recording engineer who created vocal-less rhythm backing tracks that were used by DJs doing "toasting" by creating one-off vinyl discs (also known as dub plates) of songs without the vocals and adding echo and sound effects.[4]

Late 1960s toasting deejays included U-Roy[5] and Dennis Alcapone, the latter known for mixing gangster talk with humor in his toasting. In the early 1970s, toasting deejays included I-Roy (his nickname is a homage to U-Roy) and Dillinger, the latter known for his humorous toasting style. In the late 1970s, Trinity became a popular toasting deejay.

The 1980s saw the first deejay Toasting duo, Michigan & Smiley, and the development of toasting outside of Jamaica. In England, Pato Banton explored his Caribbean roots, humorous and political toasting[3] while Ranking Roger of the Second Wave or Two-Tone ska revival band the Beat from the 1980s did Jamaican toasting over music that blended ska, pop, and some punk influences.

The rhythmic rhyming of vocals in Jamaican deejay toasting influenced the development of rapping in African-American hip-hop,[6] and the development of the Dancehall style[3] (e.g. hip-hop pioneer and Jamaican expatriate DJ Kool Herc and Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest). Jamaican deejay toasting also influenced various types of dance music, such as jungle music and UK garage. Dancehall artists that have achieved pop hits with toasting-influenced vocals include Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Lady Saw, Sean Paul and Damian Marley.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ric.edu/faculty/rpotter/calypso.html
  2. ^ Lloyd Bradley. This is reggae music: the story of Jamaica's music . ISBN 978-0802138286
  3. ^ a b c "Deejay Toasting". Rhapsody.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  4. ^ Charles R. Acland. Residual media, p. 104, at Google Books
  5. ^ "DJ/Toasting". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Essential Guide to Reggae". BBC. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08.