In almost unbearably sad news, Rudy Ray Moore, one of my personal heroes, died on Friday of complications from Diabetes. He was 81. The self-proclaimed King of the party records and Godfather of rap, Moore's rhyming, rhythmic comedy routines and unapologetic raunchiness proved a huge influence on the development of Hip Hop.
Moore made the leap from X-rated comedy albums to the big screen with 1975's self-financed Dolemite, an utterly singular pop culture landmark that introduced Moore as a sort of alternate universe blaxploitation hero: pudgy, goofy-looking and middle-aged where his contemporaries were young and sleek but wildly charismatic all the same. Moore had a unique delivery where he a-cen-tu-ated every syllable in a strangely hypnotic fashion so that a classic line like "Doctor, what is this angel dust?" (from Avenging Disco Godfather) became "Doc-Tah. Wh-ut isa thisa an-gel dust-ah?"
Even in the outrageous, larger-than-life world of blaxploitation Moore stood out like a pimp at a Promise Keeper's rally. In the mid to late seventies he appeared in one cult classic after another: the 1976 Dolemite sequel The Human Tornado, 1977's Petey Wheatstraw and the 1979 masterpiece Avenging Disco Godfather, an endlessly rewatchable disco-comedy-drama-message-movie-musical that combined disco music with ham-fisted anti-PCP sloganeering.
Moore didn't really make comedies or dramas: he was a genre onto himself. His movies were vaudeville-style reviews combining just about everything: sex and comedy and kung fu fighting and primitive special effects and dancing and anything else Moore thought his fans might dig. The commercial failure of the PG-rated crossover attempt Avenging Disco Godfather put an abrupt end to Moore's cinematic golden age. But Moore's career experienced a major revival when a veritable who's who of Hip Hop elite adopted him as a spiritual and creative godfather. The music video for Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Got Your Money" even digitally added the Wu-Tang lunatic's face onto scenes from Dolemite to great effect. Peep the science:
Interviewing Moore was one of the highlights of my career. Please do check this shit out] As a teenager I was obsessed with Moore. I used to wear a name tag at Blockbuster that read "Human Tornado" and called my boss Petey Wheatstraw, the Devils' Son in Law. He did not find it terribly amusing.
Please do feel free to spread the Dolemite love by sharing your favorite lines/moments from Moore's brilliant career. Lastly, put your weight on it! Put your weight on it, put your weight on it, put your weight on it!