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Grandmaster Flash

  • The Message
  • The Bridge

    Grandmaster Flash

  • Sugarhill Gang,

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    Grandmaster Flash

    the bridge the message greatest hits

    The Message 6 ( 1982 )
    She's Fresh / It's Nasty / Scorpio / It's a Shame / Dreamin' / You Are / The Message

    As per the recordings by the Sugarhill Gang, the actual Rap content on parts of this LP is neglible. Escaping the funk and disco scene, many of the tracks feature a regular backing band of actual musicians, rather than rap music as many will think of it. The opening 'She's Fresh' for example sounds more akin to a Prince funk/soul crossover than a genuine Rap tune. It's pretty funky, mind you, and makes you singalong, so I've not got any problems with it. But, to call this one of the first actual Rap LPs is perhaps stretching the genre just slightly. Oh, 'She's Fresh' does feature plenty of rapping before those fans of a certain age cover me with petrol and set alight to me. Props to Grandmaster Flash in either case. No only helming 'The Message' but also 'White Lines', two of the greatest and most important Rap songs ever. I actually remember having an argument with a guy named Nick Brooke at work surrounding who was the first genuine rap album artist. I went with Run DMC and he said, 'you're wrong' in that stern yet friendly and not overly offensive 'know it all' way of his. Arguments about music are never good things to get into with me. Anyway, it's all subjective. I would actually call this the first hip-hop LP and Run DMC the first rap album artists, but somebody is going to mail now saying we're both wrong, aren't they. Yes, I know about The Fatback Band, already!

    There's a song here, a soul ballad titled 'Dreamin', it's a tribute to Stevie Wonder. It's terrible and sappy and even sounds a little like those dreadful 80s Wonder ballads. Leave it be, already. Two ballads in a row? 'You Are' sounds for all the world like another Stevie tribute. Thank god for 'The Message' or side two of this LP would be entirely forgettable. 'The Message' is not only clearly the best song on the entire album but it still shames much rap output to this day. It's a stone-cold classic. Spooky, funky and wonderfully exciting. It wins the sweepstakes on this Grand National day in our house ( April 14th, 2007 ) in any case.

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    Readers Comments

    Nick Green Bay
    Actually, Kurtis Blow was the first real rap star. He was backed by a live band as well. "The Breaks" came out in 1980, two years before this album. The electro-funk style was equal parts "Planet Rock", "The Message", and that Lost in Space LP by the Jonzun Crew. Run DMC get the credit but rap music was already underway by the time they arrived.

    Pete Connecticut
    Close, both the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow beat Flash and the Furious 5 to the LP game. The first rap LP was the eponymous Sugarhill debut in 79'. Kurtis released his in 80'. Both even made their second albums in 81' a year before this album. Whodini and Kurtis Blow kinda beat out Run DMC in being more LP based artists. But your right in that Run DMC made it a viable option for rappers.

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    Greatest Hits 8 ( 1989 )
    White Lines/ Step Off / Pump Me Up / Jesse / Beat Street / Vice / Freedom / Birthday Party / Flash To The Beat / It's Nasty / The Message / Scorpio / Message II / New York, New York

    White Lines, released by Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel.
    1983 charted at number seven in the UK singles charts.

    Step Off, released by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five.
    1984 charted at number eight in the UK singles charts.

    Pump Me Up, released by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five.
    1985 charted at number forty five in the UK singles charts.

    Jesse, released by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five.
    1984, did not chart, also appears on 'Stepping Off' compilation.

    Beat Street, released by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five.
    1984, charted at number forty two in the UK singles charts.

    Vice, released by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five.
    1985, did not chart.

    Freedom, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1981, did not chart.

    Birthday Party, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1981, did not chart.

    Flash To The Beat, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1981, did not chart.

    It's Nasty, Released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1982, appears on 'The Message' LP.

    The Message, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1982, charted at number eight in the UK and appears on s/t LP.

    Scorpio, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1982, appears on 'The Message' LP.

    Message II ( survival ), released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1983, charted at number seventy four in the UK singles charts.

    New York, New York, released by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
    1983, did not chart.

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    top of page The Bridge 8 ( 2009 )
    Intro / Shine All Day / We Speak Hip Hop / Here Comes My DJ / Bounce Back / Swagger / What If / Interlude / Tribute to the Breakdancer / Can I Take You Higher / Grown & Sexy / When I Get There / Interlude / I Got Sumthin' to Say / Unpredictable / Those Chix / Bronx Bombers / Outro / Oh Man (intro) / Oh Man

    Created in his own studio and making good use of guest stars, the lengend of hip-hop that is Grandmaster Flash returns. 'The Bridge' is a modern sounding set of songs that also works as an autobiography of sorts. Indeed, Flash is releasing his own autobiography and suggests the album works well as a companion piece. We get a mix of modern beats and production techniques with hints of a better age of rap music, hints of times gone by. Red Cafe, Snoop Dogg and Lynda Carter for instance contribute to the sleek 'Swagger', an infectious tune that will sound perfect blasting out of car-radios this summer. 'Unpredictable' sees Big Daddy Kane and a tuneful singer called Syndee join up with Grandmaster Flash who continues to hint at old-skool whilst simultaneously managing to create something very modern as well. Great dance track this one and again great sunshine music for a decent Spring and a lot hot summer. With so many guest stars here by the way, you'd be forgiven for imagining 'The Bridge' is deeply inconsistent and tainted with giant egos. This is clearly not the case, these guest stars, the great Q Tip on the brilliant 'Shine All Day' for instance just do their job. The mutual respect is blindingly clear. Grandmaster Flash? He's pulled it all off.

    'We Speak Hip Hop' is absolutely stunning to a guy that's in his mid-thirties and somewhat despairing of modern rap. There's definitely an older mind at work here harking back to what made rap great in the first place. KRS One does a great spot on this one. Further decent tracks arrive pretty much throughout, yet if I have one critiscm of 'The Bridge' it's a little overlong running to twenty tracks overall. Still, let's end of a positive note. Syndee pops up a couple of more times and a Syndee LP produced by Grandmaster Flash is something i'd listen to. The closing 'Oh Man' for instance is sleek hip-hop and Syndee has a great female pop voice. The contrast works for all the tracks she works on here.

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    top of page this page last updated 21/03/09

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