In his June 9 column, “Why Muhammad Ali still matters” [Opinion], Clarence Page writes that Ali’s poetry, “loaded as it was with rhyme, braggadocio and swagger,” was “the first glimmers of what we later would know as hip-hop.”
I believe the origins were earlier. I remember from my childhood in the 1940s a sung, rhyming and vulgar poetry. This was in the streets of the South Bronx in a very mixed neighborhood.
This poetry was called “the dozens.” I still remember the words to two of the poems, and when I sing them, I put myself into a beat similar to hip-hop. I could include the words, but they’re too vulgar to put on paper.
Jerrold Schreibersdorf, Douglaston