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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

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