Editors' pick

Grandmaster Flash


Editorial Review

A lyric from the Diabolical Biz Markie admonishes listeners to "respect the architect." There couldn't be a more fitting theme to welcome Grandmaster Flash, one of the chief creators of hip-hop culture, to Washington, D.C.

Along with Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc, Flash was one of a triad of hip-hop godfathers who molded hip-hop at outdoor jams throughout New York City in the 1970s. Flash's main contribution as a DJ was the "cutting" technique of manually extending the climactic portion of a funk tune (the "break") by alternating between duplicate copies on two turntables. Breaks are what inspired the acrobatics of the young athletic dancers at these jams and eventually gave them their name: "breakdancers" or "b-boys." Flash also pioneered using showy body tricks while cutting, manipulating the controls of his mixer behind his back or with his feet.

His group, the Furious Five, are responsible for many classic hip-hop recordings, including "The Message," "White Lines," and, most prophetically, "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel."

-- Rhome Anderson