Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message (1982)


Ten months into the existence of Dad's Records and we can finally celebrate a momentous post: THE FIRST HIP HOP ALBUM. Now, I can usually tell how much my dad likes each record by how worn it is. Most Neil Young albums - folded sleeves, a looseness in the cardboard. The first and last track sure to have a few crackles and pops. But, The Message? Pristine. Felt (and sounded!) like it was pressed last week. 

So it's probably safe to conjecture that when I was a kid, Dad wasn't throwing me in the back of our green VW Rabbit, rolling down the windows, and blasting Grandmaster Flash while cruising down Northampton Street in Easton, PA. But that's what I love about my dad's collection; if it's important, if it's good - it's in there. It's half a collection of meaningful music, a compendium of the soundtrack of his life. And the other half, curated museum.

In doing a little reading about Joseph Saddler (Grandmaster Flash's real name), I found out that he also had a father who collected records. This large collection, combined with his interest in electronics, spurred him to experiment with what we now call, "DJing." He popularized scratching, punch phrasing, and backspinning, which have all become standard musical ingredients across almost all genres. Needless to say, I did not use my father's record collection in the same way. (he would have killed me)

Obviously, the biggest hit on this record is the title track, The Message. If you haven't heard, then you've probably never listened to music before, so I suggest you begin with some light reading. The track is positively perfect (and readily available in all music formats, so there's really no excuse to not have that track in your collection.) 

But the rest of the album has plenty to offer as well. I just heard She's Fresh in the dentist's office this past weekend. And, not belying its title, it held up. 

[ mp3 ]: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - She's Fresh

Scorpio is also surprisingly modern sounding for 1982. A computerized voice may sound tired today (special thanks to the recent glut of auto-tune), but it's the kicking orchestration around it that really builds this song from the ground up.

[ mp3 ]: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - Scorpio

It's been twenty eight years since this record came out. My dad's old VW Rabbit is dead and gone. All I'm saying is, keep your eyes open this summer for a Passat, cruising down Northampton Street blasting Grandmaster Flash. And when you see it, you can say to that is some real brand loyalty. 


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