The legendary Cab Calloway was born 114 years ago today. Throughout his incredible six and half decade career, the Rochester-born singer/songwriter, dancer and actor had a towering influence on music and popular culture: You can trace — and see — elements of his work in pop music, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop.
Some will say he was the original rock frontman. But I’d also suggest that he was one of the first hip-hop emcees. His work often featured intimate views of street life: pimps, con-men, drug dealers, junkies, moochers, and other shifty characters inhabit the songs in a way that almost sounds like hardcore hip-hop. Yeah, seriously.
By the way, the footage with the Nicholas Brothers is jaw-dropping. Y’all need to check that out.
Happy birthday, Cab! Happy birthday, wherever you are, you hep cat!