Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

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Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the first rap group inducted into the Rock Hall, elevated hip-hop from party music to a weapon for social change.

Put simply, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were innovators. Sonically, their new techniques and equipment expanded the sound of hip-hop. Lyrically, their masterpiece “The Message” exposed the dirty underside of a landscape known for partying—and no one saw it coming.

Hall of Fame Essay


Rob Patterson

“I was first,”Grandmaster Flash said in 2002. “I don’t care who's better, who’s worse, contribution is first. Because first is forever.”

The Sugarhill Gang may have released the first rap|single with “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979 may have been the first hip-hop artist to sign a major-label record deal. But Flash’s contention is correct: On any number of counts, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five were innovators who drove the birth of hip-hop on the streets and later in the clubs of New York City’s South Bronx in the 1970s.

During the early eighties, they etched the basic elements of the new musical style into the grooves of such elemental and influential tracks as “Freedom,” “The Birthday Party,” “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel,” “It’s Nasty (Genius of Loves (Don’t Do It).”

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program Cover 2007
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What Les Paul and Chuck Berry did for the electric guitar, Flash did for the turntable.



Photography: Getty/WireImage; Janet Macoska