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Toasts & Other Roots of Rap

Updated 6/12/2003

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I am continuingly researching Toasts and other roots of Rap. I am also interested in many other types of folklore (particularly Urban Legends). My interest in Toasts came from a combinations of sources: I watched the movie "The Great White Hype," in which Damon Wayans' character watched Dolemite to pump himself up for the fight. The next week, I bought the Dolemite collection (consisting of 6 videos: Dolemite; The Human Tornado; Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son in Law; Avenging Disco Godfather; Rudy Ray Moore is Rude; and The Legend of Dolemite). Rudy Ray Moore's movies have been my favorite Blaxploitation movies ever since. I read Darius James's book, That's Blaxploitation, which mentioned that Rudy's movies are the only ones carrying on the Toast tradition (FYI - Dolemite is a traditional Toast, and Rudy Ray Moore (as Dolemite) performs the Toast of the same name and other Toasts in his films, on records and in live performances). Then, when I visited Fringeware's page (now located at popsubculture.com) on Iceberg Slim, it mentioned the book, The Life: The Lore & Folk Poetry of the Black Hustler by Dennis Wepman, Ron Newman, and Murray Binderman, as being a book of Toasts. In December 1997, I visited California to further my (then) goal of working in the music industry. While I was waiting to visit Rickey Vincent, author of the book Funk: the Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One. (As you can tell, my interests are related), I went to the library and found The Life, and right next to it on the shelf was Bruce Jackson's Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me. Those two books led me to Roger Abrahams' Deep Down in the Jungle. I have since carried on a great deal of correspondence with Roger Abrahams and many other scholars in the field. Another major source of information has been email lists, particularly: ADS-L, H-Afro-Am, H-Oralhist, H-Rhetor, H-Urban, Discours, Publore, Creolist (sadly now defunct), as well as the Signifying List, which I moderate.

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