Album #498 – The Message

Album #498

The first hip hop album on the list was a delight to listen to. Grandmaster Flash was known for his skills behind the turntables. But, eventually, he started making music with rappers. Melle Mel, Kid Creole and Cowboy added an element that was missing from the unique music that Grandmaster Flash was creating. The Furious Five actually formed in 1977 and released a few singles. But, it wasn’t until 1982 that the group released their first and only album to feature the original line-up. At first, I was caught off guard while listening. As the opening of She’s Fresh played, I thought I was listening to the wrong album. Turns out, singing was also a BIG part of the Furious Five. There is singing on most of the tracks, something that wasn’t being done in rap or hip hop. There’s even a nod to Stevie Wonder on the track Dreamin’. Another neat feature is live musicians playing on the album. There are a few samples that are used but, because of the roots of co-producer Sylvia Robinson, she made sure the artists on her label Sugar Hill Records had an authentic sound. But, the centerpiece of this album is the title track, The Message. Originally, the Furious Five didn’t want the track released as a single because of it’s serious subject matter. The members claim that they didn’t want their party music image to be shattered. But, The Message ended up becoming an iconic moment in hip hop and rap. The MCs were now at the forefront and the social message would become an important characteristic of rap and hip hop throughout the rest of the decade. The Message may not be as vulgar as N.W.A. but, it sheds light on similar problems within low income neighborhoods. Other highlights include: It’s Nasty (sampling Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club), It’s A Shame (Mt. Airy Groove), You Are and the best showcase of Grandmaster Flash’s talent, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel. Overall, I give the Message, 5 out of 5.

Next: Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions

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