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Grandmaster Melle Mel

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Lyrical leader of the original Furious Five and founder of a splinter version of the group during the mid-’80s, Melle Mel wrote many of the legendary raps featured on Grandmaster Flash tracks. Born Melvin Glover, he and his brother Nate (aka Kidd Creole) (not the Caribbean dance-popster of the same name) joined up with Cowboy (Keith Wiggins) in 1978 to form the Three MC’s, with production handled by Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler). After Scorpio (originally Mr. Ness, aka Ed Morris) and Raheim (Guy Williams) joined up as well, the group recorded two singles (one as the Younger Generation and Flash & the Five) before they became Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and recorded the magnificent “Superappin’” for Enjoy, owned by R&B legend Bobby Robinson.

One year later, the group began recording for Sugar Hill and scored on the R&B charts with the wild party jams “Freedom” and “Birthday Party.” In 1982, “The Message” became an instant rap classic, one of the first glimmers of social consciousness in hip-hop, and Melle Mel was responsible for many of the cutting lyrics. The record’s enormous success ended up fracturing the group, however, despite subsequent successes like “New York New York” and “The Message II (Survival).” Melle Mel wasn’t happy about sharing composer credits for “The Message” (especially with Sylvia Robinson), and Flash sued Sugar Hill, citing Robinson’s conflict of interest (she not only co-owned the label, but produced and managed the group).

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