U-Roy, reggae and dancehall pioneer, RIP
Reggae and pioneer U-Roy has died, according to Jamaican media sources. He was 78.
Born Ewart Beckford in 1942, U-Roy (also known as Daddy U-Roy) was one of the first "toasters," Jamaican DJs who chanted along with the records they were playing, and he was also one of the first to become famous for it, crossing over from sound system to chart-topping artist. (He was not the very first but he crowned himself "The Originator.") He had early hits with classics like “Wear You to the Ball,” “Wake the Town” and “Rule the Nation” and later signed to Virgin, releasing Dread in a Babylon, Natty Rebel and many more.
Shaggy wrote, "Today we lost one of our heroes," and Ghostpoet wrote "They ain’t ready for your toasting in heaven." You can read a few more tributes, from UB40's Ali Campbell, Mad Professor Dub, and more below.
U-Roy was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his contribution to his country's music. The Guardian notes that U-Roy recorded a new album in 2019 titled Gold: The Man Who Invented Rap, which features Sly and Robbie, Zak Starkey and Youth of Killing Joke behind the boards, with guest appearances from Mick Jones of the Clash, Santigold, Shaggy and Ziggy Marley. That album is due for release later this year.
Rest in peace.