“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).”
Photography: Getty/WireImage; Janet Macoska