Puff Jim - He knows da score
I was chillin’ the other day when my homies on the Grillust™ Team said to me, they said; “Puff Jim, you know all about the modern Hippity Hop music ‘n’ stuff. Why don’t you write a post for our blog about the true origins of the music genre you love so much? This will both entertain ‘n’ inform da liddle chilren who are too young to remember the pioneers of the old, old skool from way back when. ”
It struck me there was truth in their words. The young bloods in my hood are hep to contemporary phat artistes like: Snoop Doggedy Dog; M&M’s; Jay Zed; Infamous Smallie Bigs; Dr. Dreyfuss and Bobby Beats but few have got game for da old skool stars like: Vanilla Ice; Threepack Smith and Africa Boombox Battery.
In fact even those in da know believe Hippety Hop was invented in da ghetto during da 1970’s. Well, I can tell them they don’t kno' nutin’!!
Word up! Here’s the true that history of old, old school Hippety Hop...
From its earliest days Hippety Hop was the music of society outsiders with a love of hearing their own voice, an unswerving belief in the value of their own opinions and a flamboyant attitude towards personal dress. I’m talking of course about the ‘Pearly’ Kings and Queens of London’s East End.
Pearlies in da Shoreditch ghetto
The ability to spout meaningless inanities in rhyme to a jaunty beat was first developed by Mixmaster Reginald Dixon on the mean streets of Shoreditch in the late 1890’s. It was Mixmaster Dixon who had the genius idea of combining the verbiage of Cockney Rhyming Slang with some washboard beats to create the world’s first Hippety Hop hit, My Old Man Said Follow the Van (later covered so memorably by Pearl Carr and M.C. Teddy Johnson.)
Mixmaster Dixon with his honey, Ethel Big-Beats
The unique sound of ‘Pearly Rap’ (as it was known then) spread fast through London and on into the Home Counties. In no time at all the first true megastar of Hippety Hop arrived in the unlikely form of one Andre Romelle Young (or Tebay Services as he styled himself) who rather surprisingly came straight out of Compton (Surrey).
Sadly no images or recordings of Tebay Services remain but a thinly veiled ‘pastiche’ of the old, old school star was used as the basis for the character ‘Bert’ (played by the multi-talented Dick Van Dyke) in the magical musical Mary Poppins.
Those early days of Hippety Hop linger on today in words like ‘bling’. Nowadays this refers to ostentatious, sparkly jewellery (some think this may be a 'folk memory' of a fully ‘buttoned up’ Pearly King or Queen) but it actually derives directly from original Cockney Rhyming Slang.
‘Pearly King’ became shortened to simply ‘King’ before morphing over time to ‘Bling’ – a word that allowed for greater alliteration.
So there you have it, lawks-a-mercy gov, who'd a thought it; Hippety Hop is 100% Pearly!
Next Time: The History of Hippety Hop Part 2 – The Noel Coward Years.