Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Furious Funk Of Flash

Today I'm going to review something very legendary and momentus in Hip Hop. The Message by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five (released in 1982 on Sugar Hill Records) was in my opinion the first Hip Hop release to establish the then nascent music and culture of Hip Hop as a serious and respectable art form in the mainstream and around the world. It was the first time DJ'ing and cutting was committed to wax. It was the first time brilliant sociological commentary was to be expressed by Hip Hop. It was also a very versatile work that included many styles that ranged from hardcore, to party jams, to R&B. I picked up a re-issue of this album alsmost 2 years ago. There's no way I'm going to find an OG pressing of this where I'm at. If your a serious Hip Hop fan and are interested in Hip Hop's humble sure to pick this up.

Grandmaster Flash was one of the pioneers of Hip Hop DJ'ing. He may not have invented scratching (Grand Wizard Theodore) or extending breaks (Kool Herc), but he was the DJ to bring these new artforms to the world. Grandmaster Flash (named after "The Grand Master" Bruce Lee and Flash for his speed on the turntables) was always interested in vinyl even as a child. He also held an interest in electronics as well. Both of these interests went hand in glove with DJ'ing. Grandmaster Flash not only studied that art of DJ'ing, but also the inner workings of his equipment. He even modded his own gear.

Flash's DJ performances were so captivating that people would just stand around and watch. He started putting a mic out for vocalists to rock, and eventually settled on five MC's (Cowboy, Melle Mel, Rahiem, Kidd Creole, and Mr. Ness/Scorpio) who eventually became The Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five as a group had an opportunity to release the first rap single, but Flash declined as he only believed that those in the Bronx would be feeling it, and he wanted to keep everything underground and real. That is until the "Rappers Delight" single by The Sugar Hill Gang was released on Sugar Hill Records in the late 70's and was a hit. That made Flash change his tune so to speak. The group then released their first single Superrappin' on Enjoy Records. The single failed to meet expectations. Soon after Flash was approached by Sugar Hill Records, and the group began recording the singles and album cuts that eventually made it onto their first full length The Message. As I mentioned above this album had a lot of great firsts, not only for the group, but for Hip Hop itself.

When listening to this album I can hear a formula that has been used for many great classic Hip Hop albums. It basically has a track for everybody. If your a conscious head and want to here The Realness, you got the title track "The Message." If you like partying, you got "It's Nasty." If you like smooth R & B you got the Stevie Wonder tribute "Dreamin'." If you just love the breaks, you got "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel." I also noticed how things go in cycles, because back then they didn't have sampling, so they would have a band interpolate the breaks that Flash was rocking for most of the tracks. A lot of that is being done today, but that is mostly due to copyright issues.

Anyways, I have included some MP3's below of my favourite tracks from the album. Check 'em out. Also be sure to join our forums. We have a good community there. We have recently had some problems and had to shut down part of it, but that won't stop us. Peace.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - It's Nasty
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel