Friday, February 12, 2016
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Grandmaster Flash
Rap had been around since the mid-70s. But the 1982 hit The Message was the first rap song to get serious mainstream attention. And it was the first social commentary rap song. Joseph "Grandmaster Flash" Saddler was born in Barbados but he grew up in The Bronx. In high school, he learned how to repair electronic equipment. And his dad was a big music fan with a large record collection. So Saddler became a DJ and invented a lot of the turntable techniques that are still used today. By 1975, he was working with legendary rapper Kurtis Blow. Then he formed his own group with Melvin "Melle Mel" Glover. There were others involved in the group that became Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. But Glover was around long term. A lot of the others didn't stay long. They were popular on the New York City party circuit. But when The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight was a hit in 1979, they signed with the same label, Sylvia Robinson's Sugar Hill Records. Of course Sylvia was a singer herself (Pillow Talk) and a record industry veteran who lucked into the dawn of rap. Grandmaster Flash had some success on the R & B charts with singles like Freedom. But the Message really established them as a force. It reached #4 on the R & B Singles chart and it crossed over to pop. The rapping was by Melle Mel and Ed "Duke Bootee" Fletcher. As for Saddler, he was important to the live shows but he wasn't much of a presence in the recording studio. Glover has said in interviews that the group wasn't crazy about doing social commentary. But Fletcher wasn't a regular member of The Furious Five. The Message was the only song he ever did with them. He was usually a session musician. Things went south for The Furious Five when they sued Sugar Hill for unpaid royalties and that ultimately split them up. They reunited for the 1988 album On The Strength but their time was over. This comp from the British label Metro has all their hits. Today Saddler owns a clothing store in New York City. And Glover still records occasionally. Fletcher returned to studio work after The Message. Here's the video for The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five featuring Duke Bootee and Melle Mel.