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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 Urban Music

    '80s Urban Music
    12 songs

    '80s Hip-Hop

    '80s Hip-Hop
    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.   Freelance
  11.   Larry's Dance Theme, Pt. 2
  12.   Fastest Man Alive
  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.   Grandmaster Flash Outro
  20.   White Lines (Don't Do It) by Melle Mel
  21.   U Know What Time It Is
  22.   P.L.U. (Peace, Love and Unity)
  23.   Hustlers Convention by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  24.   Grandmaster Flash Intro
  25.   You Are by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  26.   Flash to the Beat, Pt. 1
  27.   Super Rappin No. 2
  28.   Intro
  29.   Sign of the Times
  30.   Flash to the Beat
  31.   Lies
  32.   Behind Closed Doors
  33.   Throwin' Down
  34.   Ms. Thang
  35.   Street Scene
  36.   King of the Streets by Grandmaster Melle Mel
  37.   It's a Shame by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  38.   Grandmaster Flash Break
  39.   World War III
  40.   Jesse
  41.   Pump Me Up
  42.   The Birthday Party by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  43.   Vice
  44.   It's Nasty (Genius of Love)
  45.   Ain't We Funkin' Now
  46.   Underarms
  47.   Kid Named Flash
  48.   Get Yours
  49.   Them Jeans
  50.   Tear The Roof Off
  51.   Big Black Caddy
  52.   House That Rocked
  53.   Bus Dis (Wood)
  54.   I Am Somebody
  55.   Girls Love the Way He Spins
  56.   Interview 12
  57.   Step Off featuring Cowboy
  58.   Step Off Megamix
  59.   The New Adventures of Grandmaster by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  60.   She's Fresh by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  61.   White Lines (From "25th Hour")
  62.   Dreamin' by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  63.   The Truth

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