When the Sugarhill Gang scored the first commercial rap hit in 1979, this seemingly unheard of form of spoken lyrics shook up the media world. But rap was nothing new for Black America. Hadn’t Cab Calloway’s hepster talk put the nightclubs of Harlem on fire a half century ago, weren’t the rhythmic cadenzas of pulpit preachers and street prophets part of everyday life in the ghettos, didn’t the bragging couplets of Muhammad Ali as well as Bo Diddley, the soul preaching of Joe Tex, the jive of Andre Williams and Pigmeat Markham, the talking blues of one Lightnin’ Slim as well as the politically charged poems of the Last Poets spring from the same rich tradition of black vernacular talk?
“No matter how far it (hip hop) penetrates into… Japanese video games and cool European electronics“, hip hop author David Toop explains, "its roots are still the deepest in all Afro-American music“. The compilation "Early Rappers“ features more than one and a half dozen of these early pioneers. Their rhetoric inventiveness, their word skills and esprit fuels what hip hop has become today!