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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago

The story of the "Toaster" begins with Jamaica's now famous marketing strategy, the Sound System and the innovative DJ's that worked them. Essentially, the Sound System was a roaming dance or street party that would set up, charge admission (and sell food and alcohol), and spin records for a crowd of dancers. That description does not really do the phenomenon justice, but this is the toasting page after all. Anyway, the way the sound system worked was you had records (and Sound Systems were largely responsible for making many of the records we now covet popular), and they really had to be the top records of the day. You had a "Selecta" who chose what to play next, a promoter who owned the sound, and a DJ.


DJ notoriety goes all the way back into the 1950's when competition was fierce between the two leading sounds in Jamaica, that of [Clement "Coxsone" Dodd]and Duke Reid (of Studio One and Treasure Island respectively). Because the Sound System was such big business (in terms of direct profit and eventually record sales) it is no wonder that the DJ figured so prominently and that the eventual act of Toasting or Chatting over records would be born.


Many DJ's of the early sixties would toast over the hits of the day. Toasting is merely the act of telling stories, making boastful claims, promoting the Sound System, or making rhymes and sounds over a record. The idea was to get the crowd going, stir them up, and encourage them to spend money. While this type of music is easily traced back to about 1961, it was only regionally important and often not recorded until the Rocksteady era, or directly after it.


The important artists of that infantile era were King Stitt, U-Roy, I-Roy, and Dennis Alcapone to name a few. At the time, they worked for many of Jamaica's great producers, including Dodd, Reid, Perry and Bunny Wailer among others, and chatted over the era's most popular musicians and records. Some examples include Fire Corner-King Stitt (over Next Corner- the Dynamites), Wear You To the Ball-U-Roy (over John Holts same title), First Cut Is Te Deepest- I Roy (over the same title by Norma Frazer)and Spanish Omigo- Dennis Alcapone (over Old Fashioned Way- Ken Boothe). Not to say that these songs are the high point of the sub-genre, they just represent some of it's earlier endeavors.


While there were many innovations at the time (and that goes for all of Reggae, not just within this sub-genre), two are really significant influences of toasting that need to be described here. The first is that U-Roy, while looking for a musical home that suited him met King Tubby who was at the time working as a record cutter for Duke Reid. He had been experimenting with taking the vocals out of tracks, adding effects, and issuing them for DJ's. When King Tubby started his own Sound System, U-Roy was his top DJ, and the sound he would eventually create is known as Dub. The other is the influence that toasting had on a young Clive Campbell. Clive grew up Kingston Jamaica and knew the sound system well. Later, after a move to New York and the discovery that JA material was hard to find, began finding the "danceable" parts of records and playing only them, mixing them with other records. He began to throw neighborhood parties as he had seen in his youth, began chatting over his mixes, and was the pioneer of what is now known as "break beat DJ-ing" and surely one of the first to embark on that path we all know as Hip-Hop under his stage name DJ Kool Herc.

Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 9:39 am on Aug 8, 2007

great text! However I'm thinking we perhaps should merge this and the [deejay]-page?

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