The Signifying Monkey & Other Street Toasts (1976) | Dolemite Origins #DolemiteIsMyName

Published on 26 May 2020 / In Film & Animation

These toasts are representative of an extraordinary body of folk poetry from black American oral tradition. With the briefest of listens, anyone immediately realizes this is the precursor of today's rap. Toasts are fun; the great performers recite in grand theatrical style. They are dynamic evens, full of sound and movement. Toasts can be told anywhere, but they seem to be told in county jails more than anywhere else, and that is where the bulk of these recordings were made. Like much folk literature, toasts deal with problem of human relations, but they do it in a special, highly filtered and exaggerated way. Many of these contain violent language, some of it sexual. We find here stories of badmen, tricksters, pimps, fools, prostitutes, hustlers and squares. This album is a companion to Bruce Jackson's book of the same name (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1974).

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