Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This represents the first Rap (Hip Hop) group to be placed with the famous entourage of music performers. The innovations of Grandmaster Flash on the 1s and 2s, accompanied by the vocal rifts of Melle Mel and the Furious 5, the gritty streets of South Bronx became known all over the world through their music. Legendary tracks like “The Message” and “White Line Fever” forced people to take notice. Now, forever enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Flash represents Hip Hop’s cultural influence, 30 years in the making.
“Thirty years later rappers have become rock stars, movie stars, leaders, educators, philanthropists, even CEOs,” he said, reading his induction speech from his Blackberry. “None of this would have been possible without the work of these men.
“Backstage, Grandmaster Flash talked about how hard-fought hip-hop’s now universal acceptance had been. “There were some that called it a fad. They called it a flash of brilliance, excuse my pun. I think the significance of going into this organization is it’s the final place for corporate respect,” he said. “They all finally accepted and embraced this wonderful culture we call hip-hop.”
Who Are – Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five
Grandmaster Flash (turntables; born January 1, 1958), Cowboy (vocals; born September 20, 1960, died September 8, 1989), Kidd Creole (vocals; born February 19, 1960), Melle Mel (vocals; born May 15, 1961), Raheim (vocals; born February 13, 1963), Mr. Ness/Scorpio (vocals; born October 12, 1960)
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five fomented the musical revolution known as hip-hop. Theirs was a pioneering union between one DJ and five rapping MCs. Grandmaster Flash (born Joseph Saddler) not only devised various techniques but also designed turntable and mixing equipment. Formed in the South Bronx, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were one of the first rap posses, responsible for such masterpieces as “The Message,” “Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” and “White Lines.” The combination of Grandmaster Flash’s turntable mastery and the Furious Five’s raps, which ranged from socially conscious to frivolously fun, made for a series of 12-inch records that forever altered the musical landscape.
Flash, along with DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa, pioneered the art of break-beat deejaying—the process of remixing and thereby creating a new piece of music by playing vinyl records and turntables as if they were musical instruments. Disco-era deejays like Pete “DJ” Jones, an early influence on Grandmaster Flash, spun records so that people could dance. Turntablists took it a step further by scratching and cutting records, focusing on “breaks”—what Flash described as “the short, climactic parts of the records that really grabbed me”—as a way of heightening musical excitement and creating something new.