U-Roy: Kinging Sound Systems Since ’42

Born Ewart Beckford on September 21, 1942, U-Roy was kinging sound systems in Jamaica even before fate led him to King Tubby. King Tubby’s proto-dub acetates provided a perfect forum to soar U-Roy’s voice into stardom. Records by Lee Perry, Keith Hudson, Peter Tosh, John Holt and a slew of others would get touched by the deejay’s voice. Classics like Wake the Town and Your Ace From Space continue to get burn across the world. Hip-hop fans will remember “Tom Drunk,” his classic duet with Hopetown Lewis, as the sample for the 1997 Reflection Eternal (Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek) song “Fortified Live.” But the record that cemented his name as the top DJ in Jamaica was Version Galore. The single was popular, but the album, released in 1971, saw sales in Jamaica that had previously only been seen by 45s.

Happy 65th, U-Roy.

Audio: U-Roy – Version Galore