Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bob Dylan: The First Rapper?

The other day I had to take my car to the shop to get repaired and I met a gentleman who worked there who was quite knowledgeable about music. So of course, we got to talking and he voiced his opinion that he thought that Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" may be in fact the very first rap song, or at least the first real precursor to the rap genre. I've taken a listen to it and I'm still not quite sure what I think...

Now we at GFP aren't heavily into the rap scene, but at the very least its interesting to consider the origins of the genre. Dylan's song came out in 1965, and I would go as far as to call it slightly rockabilly, with its mixture of blues and country, but one wonders when rockabilly ends and rap begins. If a spectrum of rockabilly can be considered a precursor to rap, then could "Hot Rod Lincoln" by Charlie Ryan (1955) also be a possible first-rap song? At the very least, his rhythm on "We was drivin' up Grapevine Hill, Passing cars like they was standing still" is identical to the way I sounded when I was 12 and trying to rap.

Hot Rod Lincoln - Charlie Ryan [mp3] (iTunes)

Upon further inspection, there is a wikipedia page about Dylan's song and its history, in which it states that the song was a "three-way amalgam of Jack Kerouac, The Guthrie/Pete Seeger song 'Taking It Easy' and the riffed-up rock'n'roll poetry of Chuck Berry's 'Too Much Moneky Business.'" Its an interesting read, as far as wikipedia pages go, so check it out.

What do you think is the first rap song, or what genres do you think had influence over the creation of it? Let us know in the comments section.


mmrules said...

Look at the video for that Bob Dylan song & you will probably think your friend is correct,about the first rap song..

Anonymous said...

Man, I totally agree on that.

There's way too many suckers out there that can't grasp.

In fact, I was arguing with my sort of friend sean yesterday about this, and
they wouldn't believe me that he was wrong. Now I can just show them this blog :)

Anonymous said...

Last thoughts on Woody Guthrie, the oldest rap I have ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Please, just stop yourself now before I do. Idiots. He would be ashamed of he saw this.