Grandmaster Flash, the stage name for Joseph Saddler (Bridgertown 1958), is considered one of the reference points for hip hop music. He pioneered the mixing technique and invented new ways of making music, changing the image of the DJ and transforming the turntable into a real musical instrument like piano org guitar.
Born in Barbados, Flash moved to New York and after High School got in contact with New York DJ’s scene. Following the lead of Pete DJ Jones, Flash developed new techniques: the “Clock Theory”, through which the vinyl is marked in an exact point to find the portion of sound on which to scratch, the “cutting” to change between two tracks following the beat, the “back-spinning” in which to manually turn the recordings to repeat short fragments of sound and the “phasing” to manipulate the speed of the turntables.
Grandmaster Flash started his actual career by founding his group, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, together with rappers Melle Mel, Cowboy, Kid Creole, Mr.Ness aka Scorpio, and Rhiem. The group suddenly achieved enormous success in New York, thanks to the DJing abilities of Grandmaster Flash and the rap lyrics of the other members.
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five started, therefore, recording songs like “We Rap More Mellow” (1979), “Superrappin’” (1979), and “Freedom” (1983), which reached the Top 20 positions in R&B American Charts and sold more than fifty thousand copies.
Is however thanks to the song “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (1981), that the group started actually to impose itself on the hip hop scene, inaugurating the cutting technique that mixed and stuck together songs by Blondie and The Queen.
In 1982, the group published its first album The Message, in which hip hop music became a way of talking about serious social issues like the life in the ghetto narrated by the rapper Melle Mel. The record reached a huge success becoming a milestone for rap music and giving it the possibility to express itself.
After the strong lyrics against cocaine abuse in “White Lines” (1983), the group split up due to some disagreements between Flash and Melle Mel.
Flash continued with his solo career, publishing albums like They Said It Couldn’t Be Done (1985), The Source (1986), e Da Boop Boom Bang (1987).
In 1988 the Furious Five got back together for a charity concert at Madison Square Garden in New York and for the publication On The Strength, an album that once again received positive reviews both by the public and the critics.
Grandmaster Flash, after the publication of several compilations in the Nineties, came back in 2002 with the release of two albums: The Offical Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and Essential Mix: Classic Edition.
During all 2000s Flash remained as a tireless ambassador of hip-hop music and therefore was included, together with the Furious Five, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Two years later, Flash published The Bridge: Concept of Culture (2009), in which he collaborated with KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip and Snoop Dogg.
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