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Features, National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day October 18 – Rudy Ray Moore (aka Dolemite!)

No Comments 19 October 2011

Folks,

Here at the NOR home office we’re big fans of hip-hop. Many people, including Rudy himself, would say that without Rudy Ray Moore there would be no hip-hop as we know it today. Just as Snoop. So, just on a personal level, the NOR staff would like to thank Mr. Moore for inspiring many moments of smoking chronic, drinking 40s and pimpin’ on shorties! Today’s DPD

RUDY RAY MOORE, PRECURSOR OF RAP, DIES AT 81
Published: October 22, 2008

Rudy Ray Moore, whose standup comedy, records and movies related earthy rhyming tales of a vivid gaggle of characters as they lurched from sexual escapade to sexual escapade in a boisterous tradition, born in Africa, that helped shape today’s hip-hop, died Sunday in Akron, Ohio. He was 81.

The cause was complications of diabetes, his Web site said.

Mr. Moore called himself the Godfather of Rap because of the number of hip-hop artists who used snippets of his recordings in theirs, performed with him or imitated him. These included Dr. Dre, Big Daddy Kane and 2 Live Crew.

Snoop Dogg thanked Mr. Moore in liner notes to the 2006 release of the soundtrack to Mr. Moore’s 1975 film, “Dolemite,” saying, “Without Rudy Ray Moore, there would be no Snoop Dogg, and that’s for real.”

Most critics refrained from overpraising “Dolemite,” with the possible exception of John Leland, who wrote in The New York Times in 2002 that it “remains the ‘Citizen Kane’ of kung fu pimping movies.” The film, made for $100,000, nonetheless became a cult classic among aficionados of so-called blaxploitation movies — films that so exaggerate black stereotypes that they might plausibly be said to transcend those stereotypes.

Very little of Mr. Moore’s work in any medium reached mainstream audiences, largely because his rapid-fire rhyming salaciousness exceeded the wildest excesses of even Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor. His comedy records in the 1960s and ’70s — most featuring nude photographs of him and more than one woman in suggestive poses — were kept behind record store counters in plain brown wrappers and had to be explicitly requested.

But Mr. Moore could be said to represent a profound strand of African-American folk art. One of his standard stories concerns a monkey who uses his wiles and an accommodating elephant to fool a lion. The tale, which originated in West Africa, became a basis for an influential study by the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., “The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism.”

In one of his few brushes with a national audience, Mr. Moore, in a startlingly cleaned-up version,told the story on the Arsenio Hall Show in the early 1990s. Other characters he described were new, almost always dirtier renderings in the tradition of trickster stories represented by Brer Rabbit and the cunning slave John, who outwitted his master to win freedom.

Mr. Moore updated the story of an old minstrel show favorite, Peetie (which he changed to “Petey”) Wheatstraw, a k a the Devil’s Son-in-Law and the High Sheriff of Hell. Others in his cast were Pimpin’ Sam and Hurricane Annie. Mr. Moore became a master at “toasting,” a tradition of black rhymed storytelling over a beat in which the tallest tale — or most outlandish insult — wins. Continue


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