Way Down In The Jungle Deep: R.I.P. Rudy Ray Moore

Way dooown in the jungle deepthe bad-assed lion stepped on the signifying monkeys feet.

That line was probably older than most you (it’s older than me) but it was one of the principal calling cards of one of Hip-Hop’s greatest inspirations: Mr. Rudy Ray Moore. You may know him better as Dolemite!

Moore was a cult giant with his Blaxploitation era films which featured sex, the wackest kung fu moves ever, and most important, Moore’s narrative, pre-rap rhyming stories that were filled with rich imagery that was, as Ali’s ring raps before him, a continuance of Black oral tradition, and a precursor of the ideals that power our rich story tellers like Slick Rick, Ghostface, and others.Moore was initially a soul singer following service in the U.S. Army. He decided to switch gears in the entertainment industry once he realized he wasn’t getting any traction, and he went into the comedic direction. After hearing a toast from a homeless guy, while he worked in a record store, Moore decided to put the subject of that toast, a character named Dolemite, to real life. With that he released his first comedy album Eat Out More Often, which is also notable for its narration of “Shine and The Great Titanic.”

His records were most definitely not for children, and were laced with profanity and inappropriate imagery, but an entire generation of young adults “got hip” to Moore’s many characters like Dolemite, Petey Wheatstraw the Devil’s Son in Law(one of rapper Common’s early aliases) , the Disco Godfather (yes, the Disco Godfather) and the “Signifying Monkey.”

From wax, Rudy Ray took it to the big screen, with his 1975 co-written flick Dolemite. Although it was cheaply made, and comedy driven, Dolemite tackled some key issues that to this day plague poor and urban communities including crime, drug abuse, crooked preachers, and political corruption. It was a success in the box office and spawned many sequels.

Rudy Ray’s legacy is unmistakable with regards to Hip-Hop. He forwarded the tradition of the toast, a combination of humor and poetry inherent to generations of Black storytellers. His Dolemite movies provided countless moments of entertainment and fodder/inspiration. From Snoop “pimpin hoes and clockin’ a grip like my name is Dolemite,” to Common [Sense] referring to himself as Petey Wheatstraw, rappers have paid homage to Moore. But it doesn’t stop there. 2 Live Crew carried on the blue record tradition cutting slices of Dolemite into their classic joint “Throw That Dick.” In addition to that he appeared on Big Daddy Kane’s album Taste of Chocolate on a track called “Big Daddy Vs. Dolemite.”

When we lose someone like Rudy Ray Moore, we don’t just lose them we lose what they represent. We lose the comedy. We lose the inspiration. We lose intelligent irreverence. We lost one of the baddest mother*****s to ever grip a microphone. R.I.P. Rudy Ray. Dolemite lives!

P.S. I played myself. Shout to ODB and Kelis.

This vid is pretty much all Dolemite