Jamaican deejay U-Roy, who died at age 78 in early 2021, may not have been reggae's first practitioner of toasting—where performers sing and casually chat over a rhythm track—but his 1970 hits “Wake the Town” and “Wear You to the Ball” certainly helped popularize it. Those early recordings, among others, proved to be dancehall’s DNA, particularly as U-Roy stretched the sound even further on his key 1975 album Dread in a Babylon and collaborations with pioneering dub producer King Tubby. And as dancehall production moved to digital and became more compact, U-Roy’s voice only became an even more dynamic presence in the mix. These selections not only highlight U-Roy's indelible mark on all of reggae’s modern strains, but bring to light his influence on early hip-hop as well.
HOMETOWNJones Town, Jamaica
BORNSeptember 21, 1942