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Grandmaster Flash

The career of DJ Grandmaster Flash began in the Bronx with neighbourhood block parties that essentially were the start of hip-hop and the dawn of a musical genre. He was the first DJ to physically lay his hands on the vinyl and manipulate it in a backward, forward or counter clockwise motion, when most DJs simply handled the record by the edges, put down the tone arm, and let it play. Those DJs let the tone arm guide their music, but Flash marked up the body of the vinyl with crayon, fluorescent pen, and grease pencil and those markings became his compass. He invented the Quick Mix Theory, which included techniques such as the double-back, back-door, back-spin, and phasing. This allowed a DJ to make music by touching the record and gauging its revolutions to make his own beat and his own music. Flash’s template grew to include cuttin’, which, in turn, spawned scratching, transforming, the Clock Theory and the like. He laid the groundwork for everything a hip hop DJ can do with a record today, other than just letting it play. What we call a DJ today is a role that Flash quite literally invented.  By the end of the 70s, Flash had started another trend that became a hallmark of hip-hop, MCs asked to rap over his beats. Before long, he started his own group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Their reputation grew up around the way the group traded off and blended their lyrics with Flash’s unrivalled skills as a DJ and his acrobatic performances, spinning and cutting vinyl with his fingers, toes, elbows, and any object at hand. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five went Platinum with their single, “The Message.” Meanwhile, the single “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” introduced hip hop DJing to a larger listening audience than it had ever known before; it became the first DJ composition to be recorded by a DJ. The group’s fame only grew with “Superappin,” “Freedom,” “Larry’s Dance Theme,” and “You Know What Time It Is.” Punk and new wave fans were introduced to Flash through Blondie, who immortalised him in their hit, “Rapture”. The rock n’ roll establishment also recognised Flash with an honour no one else in hip hop has received: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Flash is also the only hip hop DJ to ever receive that honour.