The International Writers Magazine
Grandmaster Flash @ The Cavern Club, Exeter
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. Theres no high tech lighting and
no special effects, the Grandmaster it seems really is just about the
Grandmaster Flash (a.k.a Joseph Sadler) was born in Barbados, but raised
in New Yorks 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 Americas 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
dont care, just as music fans at the Cavern Club did.
Flash, seemingly effortlessly, mixed old skool disco breaks such as
the Sugar Hill Gangs 1979 hit Rappers Delight with
contemporary rap like Missy Elliots 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 wasnt 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 Flashs 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 isnt
about image or gimmicks, its all about music and respect and that
makes for a great show, "ho!"
© Racheal d'Cruz Feb 2004
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