Friday, February 20, 2009

Grandmaster Flash spans the Bridge

What if Hip Hop was never born yo
No Herc No Flash No Bam No Jams yo
No Djs No Graf No Breakers No MCing
What would the state of the world truly be in
No throw ya hands No screamin No Noise No Djs cuttin
No BBoys No Bgirls No Graffitti No Nothing.
If Hip Hop was never born let me make this clear
Just the Thought of it defintely brings me tears

KRS-One on What If

When I say that I've been waiting for this album for almost a year, I'm not even exaggerating! This was originally set to drop mid-last year but it's been pushed back a few times. Or maybe I should say that we've all been waiting for something like twenty years, because it's been that long since Grandmaster Flash has released a new album.

As far as I'm concerned, along with Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc, Flash completes the Holy Trinity of hip hop. Although not the first on the scene, Flash developed several DJing techniques that were seminal in the growth of hip hop, including cutting (improving on Herc's creation by the use of a mixer), back-spinning, and phasing, thereby taking hip hop to the next level. His contributions weren't limited to the wheels of steel though, as his work with the Furious Five can attest to. Indeed, although The Sugarhill Gang would be the first to hit big on vinyl with their self titled debut (which ironically, contained mostly NON-hip hop tracks), Flash and the Furious Five's release of The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel would be the first time scratching would be inscribed in vinyl, and their first LP The Message contains the ground breaking title cut as well as a few other classics. In 2007, they became the first hip hop artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Enough with the history lesson, here's some history in the making. It's titled The Bridge: Concept of a Culture, and as its name suggests, it's a bridge between the past and present. The lyrics that led out this post come from the album's seventh track, What If, and fronted by another hip hop legend KRS-One, serve as a primer for those not so well associated with the true roots of the hip hop movement. After a brief interlude by the Grandmaster himself, a follow-up punch is thrown with Tribute to the Breakdancer, which is one long shout out to all the b-boys and b-girls who helped put hip hop on the map.

Flash doesn't just dwell in the past though thinking about the winning touchdown pass he tossed up in high school, he shows he's still got some fresh game to lay down as well. He takes it international with the third cut, We Speak Hip Hop, which features some MC's from around the globe (including KRS-One, Afasi, Kase-O, Maccho, and Abass) dropping rhymes in their native languages, and proves the incredible cultural legacy hip hop has shaped and continues to shape well beyond 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. You'll also spot Q-Tip (who also recently released an album after a long hiatus - The Renaissance) on the second cut, Shine All Day, which is one of the album's smoother ones, Snoop Dogg on Swagger (which you can spin below), another old skool hero, Grandmaster Caz, on Can I Take You Higher (which pulls in some beats from the ever classic 45 King's 900 Number and which you can also hear below), and many many more.

Let me put it to you straight; I'm ready to pencil this album in as my favorite of 2009. Yea, I know, there's still ten more months to go, but I don't care. I have NO doubt that I'm going to be still spinning this come New Years. It hits shelves (finally!) on March 3rd.

kickin' it old skool:

Visit his website, his label Strut Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

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