The man credited with first developing Rapso music into what it would become today is pioneer, Lancelot Kebu Layne. He was born and raised in Gonzales, Trinidad and took part in many local musical shows and showcase forums in and about Trinidad. During his career, he travelled around the world giving lectures and shows at many music institutions and universities, and was one of the first artists to bring the music of Trinidad and Tobago to the rest of the world.
His 1970 song "Blow 'Way" has been argued to be the first rap recording, many years before "Rappers Delight" was recorded by the Sugarhill Gang who are identified by the American music industry as the first to record a rap song in 1979, (the term Rapso was not coined until the 1980s). Many of his most remembered songs include, "Strike Squad", which he composed for the Trinidad and Tobago national football team. "Get Off The Radio" was a protest song about the imbalance of radio airplay between local and foreign music.
The early '80s saw the like of Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba) and the Network Rhythm Band, alongside other artists such as Brother Cetewayo and Brother Book. The work of these individuals brought Rapso music more into the mainstream in Trinidad and Tobago and World Music. Brother Resistance noted, “Rapso is the power of the word/the rhythm of the word, the truth and the light, and therefore pure Rapso is the living experience of the voice. It is the vocal manifestation of the hopes and fears, visions and aspirations of a people struggling for true liberation… Rapso has its historical roots in the ancient African traditions of the griot. Therefore the practitioner of Rapso is considered as the vessel of speech, the storehouse of knowledge and history, the teacher and communicator for this new generation.”
The ‘90s saw groups such as Homefront and Kindred emerge through the musical movement known as the Kiskadee Karavan, which was a vessel to showcase the young musical talent present in Trinidad and Tobago. This helped Rapso to evolve yet again by introducing modern production and promotional methods to help push the artform forward. Other important artists to the Rapso movement include 3 Canal and Ataklan. Of note also, is the work of music producers, Detnator with their music project “Future Rapso,” which continues to push the boundaries of Rapso music and thus helping it grow and evolve to stake a claim on the global musical landscape.