Meet Rudy Ray Moore — Legendary Godfather Of Hip Hop Featured In Netflix's 'Dolemite Is My Name'

Photo: Netflix
Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore

Considered the godfather of hip hop, he's now the subject of a new Netflix film starring Eddie Murphy (in his comeback role), Keegan-Michael Key, and Wesley Snipes. But few, if any, today know the true story of the creator of this legendary character. Who is Rudy Ray Moore, and what should you know about him?

He originally developed the character of Dolemite during his early comedy routines. But Rudy Ray Moore, on the surface, seemed destined for a life of obscurity. Like most entertainers, he changed lanes time and time again, until he found something that worked for him. And while the film Dolemite wasn't, on the surface, destined to be a hit, it not only quickly became an indie Blaxploitation classic, it catapulted Rudy Ray Moore into the pop culture zeitgeist, to the point that he's considered the "Godfather of Rap."

Let's look at what else we know about this legendary comedian and screenwriter. 

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1. He started out as a dishwasher.

It's not where you started from — it's where you're going. Cleveland.com reports that Rudy Ray Moore started his career in the entertainment industry as a dishwasher, and alternated between being a comedian, disc jockey and even a preacher before "making it big" with Dolemite

2. But Dolemite Is My Name does have a few inaccuracies. 

Even though Dolemite Is My Name is based on the life and times of Rudy Ray Moore, it does have a few inaccuracies. USA Today points out, for example, that the hilarious sex scene (in which the walls came down and the chandelier shook) was from a different Dolemite movie, not the original one featured in the biographical film. (Incidentally, Murphy played a huge role in the Netflix film and says that "it came pretty close" to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But, for what it's worth, Rudy Ray Moore hoped that Wesley Snipes — who played Dolemite's director — would play him, not Eddie Murphy.)

3. Rudy Ray Moore's comedy albums were so raunchy, they were often sold "under the counter."

Back in the 1970s, before "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" stickers existed and before the internet made everything available with a click of the button, "dirty albums" were sold under the counter of record stores. That meant they were only available if you'd asked the clerk for them. And, according to Biography.com, Rudy Ray Moore's comedy albums — including his breakthrough album, Eat Out More Often (ha!) — were so explicit, they were often sold "under the counter," much like Richard Pryor's albums were at the time. 

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4. Rudy Ray Moore was considered 'the godfather of rap.'

"But the world — or at least a part of it — eventually caught up with iconoclastic, go-it-alone Rudy Ray Moore. He came to be known as “the godfather of rap” after a new generation embraced his incomparable toasts, sampling his stuff, inviting him to perform on their records and videos," explained The Daily Beast.

5. And rappers, to this day, credit Rudy Ray Moore for helping them create their persona. 

A profile of Rudy Ray Moore for Time Magazine said that he is considered "the godfather of rap" because he was the first one to "toast" over a beat. "Toasting" is a storytelling tradition that originated in West Africa and often involves competitors telling the tallest tale without getting booed out of the ring. (It's similar to "the dozens," common in Black communities in North America, where the players insult one another until the other gives up — they're the origin of "yo' mama" jokes and its name traces back to the slave trade, specifically in New Orleans, where 'less than desirable' slaves were grouped together and sold as a 'cheap dozen' to a prospective buyer.) But, in the Time profile, rappers from Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg to Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew all credited Rudy Ray Moore with helping "create" rap music in a way that no one else was able to do. 

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6. Dolemite Is My Name is getting critical acclaim. 

The Wrap is one of many outlets that is giving Dolemite Is My Name rave reviews, and there's even talk of an Oscar for Eddie Murphy's portrayal of Rudy Ray Moore. It's safe to say that time has been good to the legacy of Rudy Ray Moore, and that's well deserved for such a legendary and talented man. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.