One Christmas, back in the day, Mom Dukes gave me a cassette tape recorder. As I made my way around the 'hood, showing off my new gadget, I ran across this cat who in today's parlance might be described as "mentally-challenged." Dude was not someone known for being articulate, but when he took the mic and started reciting Dolemite from memory it was as though he were Wm. Shakespeare reincarnate. This was the first time I had ever heard Dolemite, but it was far from the last. Eventually I learned, word for word, all the x-rated Rudy Ray Moore joints that I could find; Shine and the Titanic, The Signifying Monkey, The Player, and Hurricane Annie, among others. I saw all the flicks firsthand too; Dolemite, The Human Tornado, etc. My favorite was Petey Wheatstraw (The Devil's Son-in-Law).
As my generation started coming of age in hip hop, one could now hear Dolemite, or at least his influence, in settings that were more accessible than the previously underground nature of his old "blue records." There was Big Daddy Kane vs. Dolemite, Dr. Dre's use of the Dolemite sample, "if I had some nuts," on The Chronic and Too Short's exaggerated pronunciation of what he calls his "favorite word," just for starters. Snoop has done his part to keep the Dolemite legacy alive too, along with many others.
Dolemite was a crude, raw, country, explicit, chitlin' circuit genius. He represented the root of the oral tradition and the evolution of this tradition in hip hop. His flicks were so bad, that they were good. He was organic in every sense of that word. For cats my age, quoting "Way down in the jungle deep/the bad ass lion stepped on the signifying monkey's feet..."was like a rite of passage. Dolemite was the man, in no uncertain terms.
Dolemite, they reminisce over you. We pour out a 'lil liquor in your honor!
(Dr. Boyd discusses the legacy of Rudy Ray Moore on NPR. For a further discussion of the Blaxploitation era check out The Notorious Ph.D.'s Guide to the Super Fly '70s.)