The term rude boy, as well as the rude boy subculture, originated in Kingston, Jamaica, and was linked to discontented youth. Some rude boys wore sharp suits, thin ties, or pork pie or trilby hats, reflecting the fashions of US jazz musicians and soul musicians, as well as ska and rocksteady music. There is also strong evidence that movies such as the Westerns and gangster-outlaw movies of the 1940s influenced the image of the rude boy, as scholars like Rob Wilson, Christopher Leigh Connory, and Deborah A. Thomas have documented. Sound system operators employed unemployed Jamaican youths during that period to disrupt competitors' dances (hence the term dancehall crasher). Violence that sometimes occurred at dances and its association with the rude boy lifestyle led a number of artists to publish albums that addressed the rude boys directly with lyrics that either supported or opposed rude boy violence.
Rude boy music and fashion were introduced to the United Kingdom by Jamaican diaspora during the 1960’s, which influenced mod and skinhead subcultures. The term rude boy and rude boy fashions were reintroduced in the late 1970s when the 2 tone band the Specials and their record label 2 Tone Records instigated a short but significant ska revival. In this soul, the clash contributed "Rudie Can't Fail" on their 1979 album, London Calling. The term rude boy is more commonly used to refer to street or urban cultures in multicultural Britain, where it has become a common greeting. Rough Boy has become synonymous with music genres such as ragga, jungle, drum and bass, UK garage, and grime. However, the term is still used by many old and new ska and ska punk bands, primarily in the UK and the United States.