Bob Monkhizzle – How A Dead English Comedian Invented Rap Talk
Way back in the mists of time, Snoop Dogg invented “-izzle” speak. There are some that say fellow rapper E-40 actually invented it in the 90s. Or that it first appeared in the song “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith in the 80s. Or even that it’s been around since the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s. But Snoop Dogg says he invented it and I’m certainly not going to be the one who contradicts him.
The truth is that none of them invented it really. It’s just a simplified version Pig Latin at the end of the day, and that’s been around since at least the 1860s. Snoop did put his personal stamp on it though. Most people associate him with the act of making your speech confusing to outsiders by the simple expedient of replacing the end of every other word with “-izzle”.
This method of communication must get confusing when there are words in your sentence which actually end in “-izzle” in the first place. Words like “Mizzle”, “Pizzle” or “Rumtwizzle”. Do you put another izzle on the end, leave the word as it is or even remove the izzle altogether?
Actually, that point is probably moot. The streets of South Central LA are unlike to be echoing with conversations about light prickly rain, whips made out of bulls’ penises or waterproof, undyed Irish cloth. Though I’ve never actually been to LA, so I am just guessing on this point you understand.
Snoop Dogg could probably enlighten me on the subject. He does, however, have to accept the fact that he was beaten to the punch, “-izzle”, wise by the late great comedian, Bob Monkhizzle. Sorry, I mean Bob Monkhouse.
Up until fairly recently, I thought of Mr Monkhouse as just a smarmy comedian who just did cheesy gameshows. “The Golden Shot” is the one he’s most remembered for, a bizarre program in which untrained contestants were allowed to fire actual crossbows in the studio in order to win prizes. Health and Safety wouldn’t allow it nowadays.
A few years ago though, the BBC did a tribute documentary on Bob and it was then I discovered what a truly remarkable man and obsessive compulsive nutcase he was. He was writing and drawing for British comic books The Beano, The Dandy and The Hotspur when he was still at school. He was so hard working he would write for days on end without sleep and once wrote himself into a nervous breakdown. He also had an obsession with video recording television programs and annotating the resulting collection. Bob had multiple video recorders, back when they cost a man a month’s wages, and many a show that had been thought lost forever has been found in his massive archive.
It was in one of these creative frenzies that Mr Monkhouse wrote a short sketch. Bob and his comic partner at the time, Denis Goodwin, were walking around a stately home or some such grand building. Bob turns to Denis and says “Ain’t the paint quaint?” Denis spots the Faux Pas and whispers to his friend “You can’t say ain’t, you have to say isn’t”. “Ok,” says Bob “Isn’t the pisn’t quisn’t?”
I think you can see the very close similarity to that and Snoop Dog’s “-izzle” speak. And Bob Monkhouse wrote that in the 1950s, years before Mr Dogg was even born. So there we have it. Bob Monkhouse. Rap pioneer decades ahead of his time. Sort of.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014