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Grandmaster Flash

ON AIR
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DJ Grandmaster Flash and his group the Furious Five were hip-hop's greatest innovators, transcending the genre's party-music origins to explore the full scope of its lyrical and sonic horizons. Flash was born Joseph Saddler in Barbados on January 1, 1958; he began spinning records as teen growing up in the Bronx, performing live at area dances and block parties. By age 19, while attending technical school courses in electronics during the day, he was also spinning on the local disco circuit. Over time, he developed a series of groundbreaking techniques including "cutting" (moving between tracks exactly on the beat), "back-spinning" (manually turning records to repeat brief snippets of sound), and "phasing" (manipulating turntable speeds) -- in short, creating the basic vocabulary which DJs continue to follow even today. Flash did not begin collaborating with rappers until around 1977, first teaming with the legendary Kurtis Blow. He then began working with the Furious Five -- rappers Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Kid Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Mr. Ness aka Scorpio (Eddie Morris), and Rahiem (Guy Williams). The group quickly became legendary throughout New York City, attracting notice not only for Flash's unrivalled skills as a DJ but also for the Five's masterful rapping, most notable for their signature trading and blending of lyrics. Despite their local popularity, they did not record until after the Sugarhill Gang's smash "Rapper's Delight" proved the existence of a market for hip-hop releases; after releasing "We Rap More Mellow" as the Younger Generation, Flash & the Furious Five recorded "Superappin'" for the Enjoy label owned by R&B legend Bobby Robinson. They then switched to Sugar Hill, owned by Sylvia Robinson (no relation), after she promised them an opportunity to rap over a current DJ favorite, "Get Up and Dance" by Freedom (the idea had probably been originally conceived by Crash Crew for their single "High Powered Rap"). That record, 1980's "Freedom," the group's Sugar Hill debut, reached the Top 20 on the R&B chart on its way to selling over 50,000 copies; its follow-up, "Birthday Party," was also a hit. 1981's "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" was the group's first truly landmark recording, introducing Flash's "cutting" techniques to create a stunning sound collage from snippets of songs by Chic, Blondie, and Queen. Flash & the Five's next effort, 1982's "The Message," was even more revelatory -- for the first time, hip-hop became a vehicle not merely for bragging and boasting but for trenchant social commentary, with Melle Mel delivering a blistering rap detailing the grim realities of life in the ghetto. The record was a major critical hit, and it was an enormous step in solidifying rap as an important and enduring form of musical expression. Following 1983's anti-cocaine polemic "White Lines," relations between Flash and Melle Mel turned ugly, and the rapper soon left the group, forming a new unit also dubbed the Furious Five. After a series of Grandmaster Flash solo albums including 1985's They Said It Couldn't Be Done, 1986's The Source, and 1987's Da Bop Boom Bang, he reformed the original Furious Five lineup for a charity concert at Madison Square Garden; soon after, the reconstituted group recorded a new LP, 1988's On the Strength, which earned a lukewarm reception from fans and critics alike. Another reunion followed in 1994, when the Furious Five joined a rap package tour also including Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C. A year later, Flash and Melle Mel also appeared on Duran Duran's cover of "White Lines." Except for a few compilations during the late '90s, Flash was relatively quiet until 2002, when a pair of mix albums appeared: The Official Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on Strut and Essential Mix: Classic Edition on ffrr. Throughout the 2000s, as a performer, he remained a tireless hip-hop ambassador. He and the Furious Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Two years later, Flash released an album, The Bridge: Concept of a Culture, on which he was joined by KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, and Snoop Dogg, among other rappers. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Stations Featuring
Grandmaster Flash

    '80s Hip-Hop

    '80s Hip-Hop
    12 songs

    '80s Urban Music

    '80s Urban Music
    12 songs

    Classic Hip-Hop

    Classic Hip-Hop
    1 song

    New Wave

    New Wave
    1 song

Albums by
Grandmaster Flash

Top Songs by
Grandmaster Flash

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   The Message
  3.   White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)
  4.   Step Off featuring Cowboy
  5.   The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
  6.   Freedom
  7.   Scorpio
  8.   Beat Street
  9.   Message II (Survival)
  10.   Fastest Man Alive
  11.   Freelance
  12.   Larry's Dance Theme, Pt. 2
  13.   Flash to the Beat, Pt. 1-2
  14.   We Will Rock You
  15.   New York, New York
  16.   Style (Peter Gunn Theme)
  17.   Showdown
  18.   The Message by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  19.   White Lines (Don't Do It) by Melle Mel
  20.   High by Skyy
  21.   She's Fresh by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  22.   You Are by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  23.   Step Off Megamix
  24.   Flash to the Beat, Pt. 1
  25.   The New Adventures of Grandmaster by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  26.   Grandmaster Flash Intro
  27.   Love Thang by First Choice
  28.   Run Away by The Salsoul Orchestra
  29.   Intro
  30.   Checking You Out by Aurra
  31.   Interview 12
  32.   Lies
  33.   Behind Closed Doors
  34.   Throwin' Down
  35.   P.L.U. (Peace, Love and Unity)
  36.   Ms. Thang
  37.   Street Scene
  38.   Slap, Slap Lickedy Lap by Instant Funk
  39.   Doctor Love
  40.   It's a Shame by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  41.   Hustlers Convention by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  42.   Ten Percent
  43.   Here's to You
  44.   Let No Man Put Asunder by First Choice
  45.   Call Me
  46.   Let's Celebrate
  47.   Ooh I Love It (Love Break) by The Salsoul Orchestra
  48.   My Love Is Free
  49.   Make Up Your Mind
  50.   Hit and Run
  51.   World War III
  52.   Girls Love the Way He Spins
  53.   Sign of the Times
  54.   Jesse
  55.   I Am Somebody
  56.   Bus Dis (Wood)
  57.   House That Rocked
  58.   Big Black Caddy
  59.   Tear The Roof Off
  60.   Them Jeans
  61.   Get Yours
  62.   Kid Named Flash
  63.   Underarms
  64.   U Know What Time It Is
  65.   Ain't We Funkin' Now
  66.   It's Nasty (Genius of Love)
  67.   Vice
  68.   The Birthday Party by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  69.   Salsoul Jam 2000
  70.   Step Off featuring Cowboy
  71.   White Lines (From "25th Hour")
  72.   Dreamin' by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  73.   Grandmaster Flash Break
  74.   King of the Streets by Grandmaster Melle Mel
  75.   Grandmaster Flash Outro
  76.   The Truth
  77.   Flash to the Beat
  78.   Super Rappin No. 2