Grandmaster flash interview

Me and Grandmaster Flash

Posted Jul 24th 2008 8:30AM by Mo Rocca
Filed under: Mo's Videos, Mo Rocca

Grandmaster Flash was the first man to lay his hands on vinyl and make music. Other DJs saw the turntable as a simple piece of equipment. They handled the record gently by its edges, placed it on the turntable, and carefully dropped the tonearm on the vinyl.

Flash made the turntable into an instrument. Like Pollock with a brush and canvas, Flash took control of the tonearm and worked the vinyl. He redefined the DJ as recording artist.

His legacy is huge: At South Bronx block parties, he invented the spinning and cutting techniques that extended short drum breaks (what he called the "get down" portion of songs) and combined pieces of different songs into seamless and often hours-long musical marathons. He invited vocal artists to rap over the extended drum breaks. These MCs were the first high-profile rappers. The long drum breaks also became the accompaniment for the first break dancers.

In short he helped father hip-hop music. (He's quick to note that this was not his achievement alone. DJ Herc was combining songs for block parties before him.) BUT because Flash dared to touch the vinyl, he was able to combine and recombine music seamlessly. Anyone who's been to a dance club knows what this means. You don't know where one song ends and another begins. It's one continuous "get down" — and you can dance forever.

(Truthfully there is an upside to the wedding band stop and start. You can easily excuse yourself after a lousy song – or escape before the slow dance.)

So here's my interview with Flash…  

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