Jakarta Globe: Much Respect for the Grandmaster

The legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash could be called the godfather of hip-hop. He has been contributing innovative techniques to the music style since the 1970s, and has revolutionized the world of DJ-ing.

Flash’s skills — working two turntables and a microphone — remain impressive and relevant to hip-hop followers all over the world, including in Indonesia. On Friday, fans in Jakarta will have the chance to get up close and personal with the pioneering DJ, who has been on tour of Europe and Asia following the release of his album, “The Bridge,” in March.

Grandmaster Flash’s contributions to the music industry include techniques that are commonly used by DJ’s to this day. He created through his early experimentation spinning vinyl records.

A history of hip-hop, “That’s the Joint,” which was released in 2004 and was edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, describes how Flash developed a technique called “cutting.” He played duplicate copies of a record on two turntables and manually edited the two tracks together with a mixer. The book also delves into the influence Flash’s father may have had on his passion for records. It quotes the DJ in an article with “New York Rocker” magazine, saying: “My father was a very heavy record collector. He still thinks he has the stronger collection. I used to open his closets and watch all the records he had. I used to get into trouble for touching his records, but I’d go right back and bother them.”

Grandmaster Flash, born Joseph Saddler in 1958, started experimenting with turntables while studying electrical engineering in the New York Bronx area in the early 70s.

Flash became the first DJ to physically lay his hands on the vinyl and manipulate records: forwards, backwards or in a counterclockwise motion. While most of the Bronx DJ crowd handled records carefully by the edges, putting down the tone arm and letting the vinyl play, Grandmaster Flash marked the vinyl with crayon, fluorescent pen and a grease pencil—manipulating the way the music played out.

By the late 70s, Flash had formed his own group with rappers Cowboy, Mele Mel, and Kid Creole. Then Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was formed with two other rappers, Rahiem and Scorpio.

The group gained recognition for pioneering freestyle battles, MC-ing and inventing now-common words like “hip-hop” created by Cowboy while he was scatting the words “hip/hop/hip/hop.”

Out of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s 12 albums, four of them have gone gold, selling 500,000 units in the US, while their 1982 hit single “The Message” went Platinum, selling a million units.

Flash more recently entered the literary world with “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats,” a memoir released on June 10. In the book, Flash shares some personal stories for the first time, about becoming a DJ/MC, while dealing with drugs and peers in the hip hop music scene. Michelle Udem
Grandmaster Flash Live in Jakarta

Grandmaster Flash Live in Jakarta
Friday, June 19
Blowfish
Kitchen & Bar
City Plaza,
Wisma Mulia,
Jl Jend Gatot Subroto Kav 42
Info: 0857 1080 0001

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