Various - Ancestors Of Rap - out on Tramp Records
I always thought that rap evolved from spoken word jazz & blues poetry from the late 60s, with godfathers such as The Last Poets or Gil Scott-Heron, with the first rap song ever recorded being Requiem Pour Un Con by Serge Gainsbourg (in september 1967 in France!), a vocal rap on funky breakbeats… That track always marked, until proved wrong, the starting point of Hip Hop as we know it. Well, Tramp Records label boss & rare funk/jazz vinyl digger Tobias Kirmayer goes even further in that search for the origins of rap with his Ancestors of Rap compilation, collecting some highly underrated prototype rap songs from the late 60s and early 70s. With that utterly original theme, this record sounds like a perfect Paris DJs selection, with original artwork, extensive liner notes, scans of the records the songs originate from, lots of VERY rare grooves you won't even find info about on the Internet… and amazing taste in soulful and funky music all along! We've been playing this incredible selection on repeat at Paris DJs studios ever since we received the promo and can't wait for the limited edition (1000 copies only) gatefold double LP to come out!
Various - Ancestors Of Rap A Collection of Highly Underrated Prototype Rap Songs
Compiled by Tobias Kirmayer
(CD/2LP/Digital) Tramp Records TR-9019, 2012-10-08
01. Pigmeat Markham - We Got The Number
02. Bill "Butter Ball" Crane - Steppin Tall
03. Butterball - Butterballs
04. Obsidian II - Hanging In
05. Billy Dee & Sugarbear - Everybody Says
06. James West - Hanging Out
07. Johnnie Morisette - I'm Hungry
08. Timmie Rogers - Snake Hips (At The Apollo Theatre)
09. Gary Byrd - Every Brother Ain't A Brother
10. Bobby & Deborreh Williams - The Pusher's Thang
11. Round Robin Monopoly - Little People
12. Iris Bell & Jive-Ettes - Honky Games
13. Blowfly - Sesame Street
14. James Brown - Get On The Good Foot
15. A.J. Rowe - Smoke My Pipe (The Sign Ain't Right)
16. Rufus Beacham - Do You Have A Good Woman
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Press Release :
Although Tramp Records is known worldwide for its expertise in soul, funk and jazz from the 1960s and 70s, label boss Tobias Kirmayer always had a deep connection to hip hop and rap music. His dream to compile prototype rap songs has existed for quite some time. In the search of quality songs, Kirmayer realized that it takes more than to simply scratch the surface. The challenge was to locate enough proper material to meet the criteria to be called prototype rap. The answer is Ancestors of Rap.
The origins of rapping (referring to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics") go way back in history. Blues music, rooted in the work songs and spirituals of slavery, was first expressed by blacks in the Mississippi Delta region around the time of the Emancipation Proclamation. Historians have argued that the blues were being rapped as early as the 1920s. By the late 1960s spoken word jazz poetry artists like Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets, to name two, became predecessors of rapping.
This compilation unites the few existing soul and funk tracks from the late 1960s to early 70s that feature lyrics that are rhymed in rhythm. Alongside the famous representatives of this genre were a handful of lesser-known musicians who gave notable contributions. One of the most expressive examples is Who Got The Number by comedian Pigmeat Markham. Similar in style are Billy Dee & Sugarbear. No matter what track you select, James West, Bobby & Deborreh Williams or one of the big names like James Brown or Blowfly, you can be assured of the sheer quality and relevance of each song.
And this is it. A thunderous selection of so far mostly unknown prototype rap songs, recorded way before hip hop actually got its start in 1979. The intense research combined with the first-class quality of each song makes it clear that there won't be a Volume 2. Throw your hands in the air, and wave them like you just don't care - you are about to experience in depth the real Ancestors of Rap.
The 12-page CD-booklet contains detailed liner notes and scans of all labels. The deluxe double-gatefold LP contains the same information as the CD-booklet and is limited to 1000 copies.
Excerpt of the original liner notes :
Pigmeat Markham - We got the number (actually Who Got The Number, but the Major-label knows it better)
Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham (1904 - 1981) was an African-American comedian, singer, dancer, and actor. Markham began his career in traveling music and burlesque shows. In the 1940s he started making film appearances, in the 1950s he began appearing on television. Markham was a familiar act at New York's famed Apollo Theater. His boisterous, indecorous Heyeah (Here) Come Da Judge, which made a mockery of formal courtroom etiquette, became his signature routine. Markham was signed to Chess Records in 1964 and released several standup comedy albums. Markham cut We Got the Number, with Pigmeat bellowing a rhyming version of his act and a hot R&B band cutting the funk in the background. After a career that spanned seven decades, Markham died as a result of a stroke on December 13, 1981.
Pigmeat Markham - Who Got The Number - hear it also on Paris DJs' latest Bag Of Goodies mix
Johnnie Morisette - I'm hungry
Johnny Morisette was born January 1, 1935 in Montu Island, South Pacific. He was raised in Mobile, Alabama, where he grew up singing with a local quartet, The Bells of Heaven. At the time, Mobile was a regular stop for touring black gospel quartets. Morisette and Sam Cooke became friends during one of his tours through Mobile. In 1952, Johnnie Morisette decided to abandon gospel and hitchhiked out to Los Angeles.He started releasing for Sam Cooke's SAR label. When SAR folded after Cooke's death, Morisette recorded sporadically for several local independent labels in styles ranging from blues to funk. I'm Hungry was recorded in the early 1970s and features the Jennell Hawkins Sextette as the backing band. Despite the fact that I'm Hungry has been a deep-funk classic since the mid 1990s you just need to listen closely to hear why this tune fits so perfectly on the compilation. Sadly, Johnnie Morisette passed away on January 8, 2000 in San Francisco, California.
Timmie Rogers - Snake hips
Timmie Rogers (1915 - 2006) was one of the first black comedians allowed to directly address a white audience when he worked. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and was earning nickels and dimes dancing on the street by the time he was 8. By 1932, Rogers was part of a successful dance team: Timmie & Freddie. They split in 1944 as blacks across the country were developing a collective voice in the name of civil rights. In 1949 Rogers came out with his signature phrase - Oh, yeah! - at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. During the 1950s and 60s he was a regular on The Jackie Gleason Show and recorded for the Cameo and Parkway labels. Rogers continued to perform on television in the 1970s but eventually faded as other comics, such as Richard Pryor, rose to fame. Rogers admired the new performers but not their language. He thought it was evidence of a performer's lack of creativity and originality when they overused 'four-letter' words. Snake Hips features an introduction by MC Honi Coles and the Stax House Band.
Blowfly - Sesame Street
Blowfly is the alternate persona of Clarence Reid (born February 14, 1939 in Cochran, Georgia). His stage name originated from his grandmother, who overheard him as a child singing Do The Twist as Suck My Dick, and said, "You is nastier than a blowfly." After moving to Miami, Florida, Reid started off writing songs for artists of the Henry Stone family including Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae, and KC & the Sunshine Band. He also recorded many songs of his own in the 60s and 70s including Nobody But You Babe. He created this alter ego to protect his career as a songwriter. As Blowfly, he has recorded numerous albums, mostly of sex-based parodies of other songs, as well as original raps themed around sex. Established record labels wouldn't release profane material so he distributed the records himself under his own Weird World label. Many of Blowfly's songs featured his style of talking in rhyme, which can be considered a primitive form of rapping.
Round Robin Monopoly - Little People
Round Robin Monopoly was the band of Robin Lloyd (Round Robin). He was a Los Angeles based singer. He got his start in the early 1960s with the regional hit Do The Slauson, for a time as something of a West Coast, dance-craze ala Chubby Checker. In fact, 'The Slauson' (a street in LA) was so popular that Robin Lloyd devoted sides of his first three 45rpm singles to the 'Slauson' theme, incl. Slauson Shuffle Time. Interestingly, Bob & Earl reportedly looked to Slauson Shuffle Time for inspiration when they whipped up the mighty Harlem Shuffle. Lloyd recorded more than a dozen 45rpm singles between 1963 and 1975, running the gamut from R&B/twist party, through soul, garage and funk. In 1974 he recorded the album Alpha under the name the Round Robin Monopoly from which Little People originates from.
Billy Dee & Sugarbear / James West / Bobby & Deborreh Williams
Little is known about Billy Dee who delivers a fine example of what we call prototype rap. Besides We Got The Number it is the only track with so called back-to-back rhymes. When I first heard this tune it blew me away, and it took more than one year to track down a copy of the original 45rpm single. Next comes James West, the "preacher man", from New York. His singing style is something between spoken-word poetry and rapping. He released both songs on Strength Records which was likely to be his own label. An interesting side-note is that Hanging Out was arranged by jazz guitarist George Benson. Another jewel with a female singer (or should I say rapper?) is The Pusher's Thang by Bobby & Deborreh Williams. It was originally released on the Chez label out of New Orleans. Not only the style of her story-telling but the critical social lyrics about a drug dealer are both way ahead of its time.