Slacker Logo


Grandmaster Flash

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
Read More Read Less

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