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The International Writers Magazine

Flash – "ho!!"
Grandmaster Flash @ The Cavern Club, Exeter
Rachael D’Cruze

You may think that a garishly coloured social club in Devon was a curious choice of venue for the infamous Grandmaster Flash to play a one off gig – I did. But when you can work a crowd, really work a crowd, like the Grandmaster can, you can turn even the most bizarre venue into an NYC block party for a couple of hours.

Being the very first DJ to release a rap record and pioneering enough to be the first to use both samples and scratching on his ‘Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel’ single, Flash has secured his rightful place in hip-hop history and should be seen in action at least once.
Now into his third decade of DJing, Flash has the on stage presence of a god. He bellows, "Who wants to hear some Old Skool?" out to the crowd and they roar with delight as he begins his set with flamboyant cuts and scratching. There’s no high tech lighting and no special effects, the Grandmaster it seems really is just about the music.

Grandmaster Flash (a.k.a Joseph Sadler) was born in Barbados, but raised in New York’s Bronx. Flash and his group ‘The Furious Five’ were kings of the NY hip hop scene by the end of the seventies but failed to make any real impact on America’s larger music scene.

It was British travellers, returning from trips to New York who began to rave about the legendary Grandmaster Flash. When flash and The Furious Five arrived in London in 1982, British music history was made. Londoners were told to ‘put your arms in the air and wave them like you just don’t care’, just as music fans at the Cavern Club did.

Flash, seemingly effortlessly, mixed old skool disco breaks such as the Sugar Hill Gang’s 1979 hit ‘Rappers Delight’ with contemporary rap like Missy Elliot’s ‘Work It’. The mixture of old and new styles really lifted the atmosphere, uniting hip-hop veterans and young b-boys and girls at the Cavern Club.
Flashes ability to work a crowd was evident, as there wasn’t a single person standing still whilst Flash was at work. Any attempt to look cool and aloof soon disappeared as the whole hall raised their right arms and shouted "ho!" to Flashes lead.

One of the most poignant moments of the night was Flash’s dedication to the late Jam Master J, of RUN DMC, who regularly collaborated with. Unlike a lot of contemporary hip hop and rap music Flash, like RUN DMC has distanced himself the glorification of gangster lifestyle. By the end of the gig it has become apparent that Grandmaster flash isn’t about image or gimmicks, it’s all about music and respect and that makes for a great show, "ho!"
© Racheal d'Cruz Feb 2004

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