Rudy Ray Moore

1927-2008

by Dani Capalbo

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Rudy Ray Moore, the incendiary performer whose raunchy routines and rhyming style broke new ground for generations of comic entertainers and hip-hop artists, died Sunday of complications from diabetes. He was eighty-one.

Best known for his licentious lead role as the nominal pimp in 1975’s Dolemite, Moore starred in more than a dozen films and became a prominent cult and Blaxploitation personality. Early records like Let’s Come Together and Eat Out More Often captured the Arkansas native’s unapologetically profane routines, which boldly introduced a national audience to four-letter words on record. In addition, Moore would fuse soul music into his comedic craft, making him equally influential on humorists like Richard Pryor as it would on peer smut peddlers like Clarence “Blowfly” Reid.

Moore was an uncompromising disciple of the indecent. His work was unrefined, but not gratuitous, he often claimed. Still, the covers of his comedy records were so sexually explicit they couldn’t be displayed above the counters in shops. As a result, he flourished in the underground, voluntarily evading popular acclaim at every turn.

Decades later, his influence on contemporary comedy and music would be recognized by a new generation of fans. Moore’s trailblazing was not only reflected in the boundary-pushing careers of Pryor and Eddie Murphy, but directly honored with cameos on hip-hop tracks by artists like Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop Dogg, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and 2 Live Crew. Often these cameos were borrowed from his recorded material, but as often, Moore suited up as Dolemite, fabricating fresh fire on record for the new generation of edgy entertainers.

But Moore was not relegated to one bawdy trick. “I don’t want to be referred to as a dirty old man,” he told the Miami Herald more than a decade ago. Instead, he preferred the phrase “ghetto expressionist,” and a trilogy of self-proclaimed titles: “Soul Singer of the 21st Century,” “The Godfather of Rap,” and, of course, “The Original King of the Party Record.”

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