Monday, January 27, 2014

The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

Sounds like rhythmic scratching as the words “ya say” of the song Rapper’s Delight  repeat before the vocalist is permitted to move past the two syllables by Grandmaster Flash. The tune quickly escalates into a new groove after a sharp whistle and continues to shuffle through a variety of samples during the piece. The quick cuts are manipulated by quick chops and scratches that sound similar to what Oswald describes as an “electric washboard with a phonographic needle as a plectrum”. The words of the first two vocalists rhyme with each other and are very even in rhyming each time on the 4 count before the female vocalist starts speaking a different language for one of two bars that have a different rhyme. The cutting and restructuring of each record restructures the role of the rhythm and performance of each piece to create a fluid movement that combines many segments of different songs into one cohesive song. The melody from the song Another One Bites The Dust plays a central role in the record along with the constant presence of drums and various percussion (bongos , congas, clapping, etc).Cut up vocal samples  layer over much of the piece especially the call and response referring to the Grandmaster himself. The various vocal samples are taken from 1980’s Hip Hop club crowds and the original masters of ceremony (or MC’s) that  are pieced into a collage of vocals that dictate the Furious Fives anthem  and cheer Grandmaster Flash on from a party or club setting. The vocal samples are manipulated by spinning records against the needle (commonly counterclockwise) that can loop small sections of songs to create repetition along with specific cuts that don’t repeat. The end of the song samples a call and response asking everyone to scream before cutting to choice words from Cheech and Chong then back to the crowd. The layers of music increase towards the end of the song (including layers of crowd cheers)  before a quick fade out brings the tune to a close.  The song shocks the ear with quick, graceful transitions between vastly different sounds while maintaining a constant beat thus combining the unexpected with the expected. Who ever would have thought that so many different songs from different eras and genres could come together without ever meeting each other to create one cohesive song?

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