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Was Rap music born in Jacksonville?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The birth of hip-hop culture and Rap music is tied to New York City, but Action News Jax Ben Becker discovered the origin of rap has a link to Jacksonville.

Hip Hop recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. But rap is older than you think.

This is where a gospel group called, The Jubalaires comes in. According to the book, “My Name is Caleb N. Ginyard: A Father & Son Autobiography of a Spiritual Music Genius” written by the son of one of the Jubalaires founders, the group formed as the Royal Harmony Singers in Jacksonville in 1936.

One report states they started as singing waiters at Jacksonville’s Seminole Hotel which was located at the southeast corner of Hogan and Forsyth Streets.

“How much of what they did then have in common with what we know today [about rap music]?” Becker asked Paradise Gray, the Curator of The Hip Hop Museum located in the Bronx, New York. “I think it has everything in common with what we do today,” said Gray.

By 1946, The Jubalaires recorded a song called “Noah” considered today by some as the first recorded instance of rap music.

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“If you pay attention to the cadence of The Jubalaires and you listen to the cadence of The Sugarhill Gang, which made the most popular rap song in the world [Rapper’s Delight], still to this day in 1979 - if you take The Jubalaires vocal and put them over Good Times you might think you were listening to the Sugarhill Gang,” said Gray.

The Jubalaires were one of the first gospel groups to perform on television, appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Arthur Godfrey Show” and released numerous successful albums throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

As for Gray, he said rap has been around a long time and will stay around forever. “We always have to give credit to our ancestors and our elders who created all the elements of Hip Hop, and we’re thankful for it,” said Gray. “It will never die because the young people will always creatively take what was created and do what they want with it and that’s their birthright.”

The Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx is set to open in 2025.

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