Rude boy

For other uses, see Rude boy (disambiguation).

Rude boy, rudeboy, rudie, rudi, and rudy are slang terms that originated in 1960s Jamaican street culture,[1] and which are still used today. In the late 1970s, the 2 Tone ska revival in England saw the terms rude boy and rude girl, among other variations, being used to describe fans of that genre. This use of the word moved into the more contemporary Ska Punk movement as well. In the UK, the terms rude boy and rude girl are used in a similar way to gangsta or badman.[2]


The rude boy subculture arose from the poorer sections of Kingston, Jamaica, and was associated with violent discontented youths.[3] Along with ska and rocksteady music, many rude boys favored sharp suits, thin ties, and pork pie or Trilby hats, showing an influence of the fashions of American jazz musicians and soul music artists. American cowboy and gangster/outlaw films from that period were also influential factors in shaping the rude boy image.[4][5] In that time period, unemployed Jamaican youths sometimes found temporary employment from sound system operators to disrupt competitors' dances (leading to the term dancehall crasher).[6] The violence that sometimes occurred at dances and its association with the rude boy lifestyle gave rise to a slew of releases by artists who addressed the rude boys directly with lyrics that either promoted or rejected rude boy violence. Starting in the 1970s, Jamaican reggae music replaced the ska and rocksteady music associated with the rude boys. In the 1980s, dancehall became the main Jamaican popular music genre, drawing some parallels with the earlier rude boys in its culture and lyrical content.[7][8][9]

United Kingdom

In the 1960s, the Jamaican diaspora introduced rude boy music and fashion to the United Kingdom, which influenced the mod and skinhead subcultures.[10][11] In the late 1970s, the term rude boy and rude boy fashions came back into use after the 2 Tone band The Specials and their record label 2 Tone Records instigated a brief but influential ska revival.[12] In this spirit, The Clash contributed "Rudie Can't Fail" on their 1979 album, London Calling. In more recent times in multicultural Britain, the term rudeboy has become associated with street or urban culture, and is a common slang greeting. The term rudeboy has become associated with music genres such as ragga, jungle, drum and bass, garage, and grime.

See also


  1. "The Rude boy in Jamaican music" - The Gleaner - 1 January 2012 Retrieved 28 January 2013
  2. Neville Staple (2009) Original Rude Boy, Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-84513-480-8
  4. The worlding project: doing cultural studies in the era of globalization By Rob Wilson, Christopher Leigh Connery. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  5. Thomas, Deborah A. Modern blackness: nationalism, globalization, and the politics of culture in Jamaica
  6. Jackson, Andrew Grant (2015). 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-250-05962-8.
  7. Dubwise: reasoning from the reggae underground By Klive Walker. 30 December 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  8. Spectacular vernaculars: hip-hop and the politics of postmodernism By Russell A. Potter. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  9. Dub: soundscapes and shattered songs in Jamaican reggae By zxxzx. 30 April 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  10. Old Skool Jim. Trojan Skinhead Reggae Box Set liner notes. London: Trojan Records. TJETD169.
  11. Marshall, George (1991). Spirit of '69 – A Skinhead Bible. Dunoon, Scotland: S.T. Publishing. ISBN 1-898927-10-3.
  12. Panter, Horace. Ska'd For Life. Sidgwick & Jackson, 2007.
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