Did Rap Music Start Here?

Deep River Boys

Deep River Boys

The wonderful thing about music is that nobody really knows who hummed the first melody, who uttered the first lyric or who beat on the first skin. The debates about where the origins of almost every genre of music will continue through our lifetimes and beyond. Did Rock start with Elvis, Carl Perkins or Fats Waller? Did Jazz start in the streets of Chicago, New Orleans or in New York? What about Country music? Was the Carter family where it all began, or was it in the back hills of the Carolinas decades before that?

When combing through our Muzak master library, we came across a session from 1954 that caught my ear. The Deep River Boys, a popular 4 piece vocal group from Virginia, came into Muzak’s Manhattan studio on June 7th to record a dozen songs accompanied by a single piano. One of the compositions they sang that afternoon was “What Did He Say,” written by Cy Coben. Could this have been the first rap song ever recorded? Listen and decide for yourself.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

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Tagged as: 50s music, American gospel music, Deep River Boys, music archives, Muzak Archives, Old Music, R&B

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