Wednesday, October 25, 2006
A Tale of Two Grandmasters
From here to Timbuktu and back--searching the thrift shops, digging through piles of scrap, picking through Barry Mainlowe compilations and various other crap, looking for gems, like early eighties rap.
This here's the record that started it all for me. Back in '84 or '83. In the schoolyard, young Harold McGee gave a copy of the cassette to me. When Melle Mel broke up the Furious Five, taking Cowboy and Scorpio to do their own jive, leaving Flash and the others barely alive, with Vicious Lee on the cuts they tried to survive. They hired Kama Kaze and some other guys like Tommy Gun and King Lou to make their own Furious Five. But it got kind of confusing and led to debate: if you put the two groups together you got the Furious Eight!
Their record didn't to great, but they had one hit with "White Lines" their famous anti-drug bit. Struggling to make their new group legit they went out on tour but eventually quit. Without Grandmaster Flash, the group couldn't make it. Despite Melle Mel's lyrics, it was impossible to fake it. So they just made one record, and the best track for me is Melle Mel's earth-shattering "World War III".
At the end of the day, Melle Mel got what he wanted: the title "Grandmaster" so that he could flaunt it. But the two grandmasters, Flash and Melle Mel, kept on squabbling 'til their act went to hell. They put out a new disk, but couldn't remain. The group got back together just to break up again! Such is the nature of spurious genius: it takes you to Mars, takes you to Venus, then leaves you stranded in a desolate spot. But at the end of the day, their records still rock!
Click for ye olde Melle Mel Podcast!
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