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Toasting (Jamaican music)

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Big Youth is typical of reggae deejays who toast

Toasting (rap in other parts of the Anglo Caribbean) or deejaying is the act of talking, usually in a monotone melody, over a rhythm or beat by a deejay. It can either be improvised or pre-written. Toasting developed in Jamaica, before it took up that name and being part of the sound system era, a similar sound of it is found in mento and now can be heard over musical styles including ska, reggae, dancehall, dub, grime, hip hop, soca and bouyon music. The combination of singing and toasting is known as singjaying.

In the late 1950s in Jamaica, one of the first Selector,[1] also being a promoter optimized of using a mic and to entertain an audience while playing records was Count Matchuki.[2] He conceived the idea for being comically entertaining from listening to commercial ads and disc jockeys on American radio stations etc.[3] He would create and come up with comically phrases also doing African American jive over the music while selecting and playing R&B music. Deejays like Count Machuki working for producers would play the latest hits on traveling sound systems at parties and add his vocals to the music. These talks consisted of comedy, boastful commentaries, half-sung rhymes, rhythmic chants, squeals, screams and rhymed storytelling.

Osbourne Ruddock (a.k.a. King Tubby) was a Jamaican sound recording engineer who created vocal-less rhythm backing tracks that were used by DJs doing toasting by creating one-off vinyl discs (also known as dub plates) of songs without the vocals and adding echo and sound effects.[4]

Late 1960s toasting deejays included U-Roy[5] and Dennis Alcapone, the latter known for mixing gangster talk with humor in his toasting. In the early 1970s, toasting deejays included I-Roy (his nickname is in homage to U-Roy) and Dillinger, the latter known for his humorous toasting style. In the early 1970s with the rise of Dub Big Youth became popular,also Prince Jazzbo in his early appearance toasting with more cadence on Dubs. In the late 1970s, Trinity followed.

The 1980s saw the first deejay toasting duo, Michigan & Smiley, and the development of toasting outside of Jamaica. In England, Pato Banton explored his Caribbean roots, humorous and political toasting[6] while Ranking Roger of the Second Wave or Two-Tone ska revival band The Beat from the 1980s did Jamaican toasting over music that blended ska, pop, and some punk influences.

Jamaican deejay toasting also influenced various types of dance music, such as jungle music and UK garage. Dancehall artists that have achieved pop hits with toasting-influenced vocals include Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Lady Saw, Sean Paul, Terror Fabulous and Damian Marley.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Machuki & Stitt interview [Part 1] [UNCUT]
  2. ^ Lloyd Bradley. This is reggae music: the story of Jamaica's music . ISBN 978-0802138286
  3. ^ Augustyn, Heather (2015). "Spinning Wheels: The Circular Evolution of Jive, Toasting, and Rap". Caribbean Quarterly. 61 (1): 60–74. doi:10.1080/00086495.2015.11672548. ISSN 0008-6495. JSTOR 43488956.
  4. ^ Charles R. Acland. Residual media, p. 104, at Google Books
  5. ^ "DJ/Toasting". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  6. ^ "Deejay Toasting". Rhapsody.com. Retrieved 2006-08-04.