Produced by

Grandmaster Flash: from soundtrack of the 70's to Hall of Famer

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - 01:23 PM

New York in the '70s was an amazing place to grow up, especially if you were into music. I was heavily into the punk scene, but because I rode the J train every day through Bushwick, East New York, and pre-hipster Williamsburg, I also heard the emerging sounds of rap. (This was before the MTA’s ban on playing radios or boomboxes on the subway.) Then, in the sweltering summer of 1979, I shared an apartment in the Bronx with members of the Fordham University basketball team and got to hear a lot of the earliest real records of what would come to be known as hip-hop. That’s when I first started hearing about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It was already a lot more sophisticated than the stuff I’d heard a few years earlier – although I couldn’t have told you why or how.

Now I know why and how: Grandmaster Flash wasn’t necessarily the man who turned the 2-turntables-and-a-mixer setup into a musical instrument, but he was that instrument’s first virtuoso. And now, he and the Furious Five are in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame as progenitors of what has become the world’s dominant musical force.

What do you think Grandmaster Flash’s legacy is? The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction was sort of controversial, with some claiming rap is not rock – do you agree?


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.


About The Soundcheck Blog

Get hot takes and deep dives from John Schaefer and the rest of the Soundcheck crew, as fast as sound travels.