HOME
The message
Lyrics
(e.fletcher, s.robinson, c.chase, m.glover -
Sugarhill records í82)

Itís like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just
Donít care
I canít take the smell, I canít take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkieís in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldnít get far
Cause the man with the tow-truck repossessed my car
Chorus:
Donít push me, cause Iím close to the edge
Iím trying not to loose my head
Itís like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Standing on the front stoop, hanginí out the window
Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes
Blow
Crazy lady, liviní in a bag
Eating out of garbage piles, used to be a fag-hag
Search and test a tango, skips the life and then go
To search a prince to see the last of senses
Down at the peepshow, watching all the creeps
So she can tell the stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so so so ditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldnít make it on her
Own

Chorus:
Itís like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from goiní under


My brotherís doing fast on my motherís t.v.
Says she watches to much, is just not healthy
All my children in the daytime, dallas at night
Canít even see the game or the sugar ray fight
Bill collectors they ring my phone
And scare my wife when Iím not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Canít take the train to the job, thereís a strike
At the station
Me on king kong standiní on my back
Canít stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
Midrange, migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think Iím going insane, I swear I might
Hijack a plane!
Donít push me, cause Iím close to the edge
Iím trying not to loose my head
Itís like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

My son said daddy I donít wanna go to school
Cause the teacherís a jerk, he must think Iím a
Fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think itíd be
Cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
I dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause itís all about money, ainít a damn thing
Funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and
Honey
They push that girl in front of a train
Took her to a doctor, sowed the arm on again
Stabbed that man, right in his heart
Gave him a transplant before a brand new start
I canít walk through the park, cause itís crazy
After the dark
Keep my hand on the gun, cause they got me on the
Run
I feel like an outlaw, broke my last fast jaw
Hear them say you want some more, liviní on a
Seesaw

Chorus:

A child was born, with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smiling on you but heís frowning too
Cause only God knows what you go through
You grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way
Youíll admire all the number book takers
Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you wanna grow up to be just like them
Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers
Pickpockets, peddlers and even pan-handlers
You say Iím cool, Iím no fool
But then you wind up dropping out of high school
Now youíre unemployed, all null íní void
Walking around like youíre pretty boy floyd
Turned stickup kid, look what you done did
Got send up for a eight year bid
Now your man is took and youíre a may tag
Spend the next two years as an undercover fag
Being used and abused, and served like hell
Till one day you was find hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young

Chorus:
Itís like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under


PART II
GRANDMASTER FLASH
Finds THE FURIOUS 5
and brings the street to the studio
OR
HOW A YOUNG MAN FROM BARBADOS CHANGES MUSIC FOREVER
DJ Grandmaster Flash was one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing.

Born Joseph Saddler on January 1, 1958 in Barbados he grew up in the Bronx. He became involved in the earliest New York DJ scene, attending parties set up by early luminaries. Learning from Pete Jones and Kool Herc he used duplicate copies of a single record and two turntables but added a dextrous manual edit with a mixer to promote the break (a point of isolated drum rhythm) - the ordinary playing of the record would be interrupted to overlay the break, the break could be repeated by using the mixer to switch channels while the second record was spun back. The speed and dexterity needed showed why Saddler was called Flash, although he got the nickname in school due to the fact that he hung around with another guy named Gordon. He also invented the technique initially called cutting, which was developed by Grand Wizard Theodore into scratching (AMG).

He played illegal parties and also worked with rappers including Kurtis Blow and Lovebug Starski before forming his own group in the late 1970s after promptings from Ray Chandler. The initial members were Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover) and Kid(d) Creole (Nathaniel Glover) making Grandmaster Flash and the 3 MCs. Two other rappers briefly joined but they were replaced more permanently by Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams, previously in the Funky Four) and Scorpio (Eddie Morris, also used the name Mr. Ness) to create The Furious Five. They pioneered MCing, head-to-heads, and invented some of the staple phrases as well as skillful raps. They performed at Disco Fever in the Bronx from 1978.

Signed to Sugar Hill Records in 1980 by Joe Robinson Jr. They released numerous singles, gaining a gold disc for "Freedom", and also toured. The classic "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," released in 1981 was the best display of their skills, but it was their least successful single at the time. The group's most significant hit was "The Message" (1982), which went platinum in less than a month. Flash sued Sugar Hill in 1983 over the non-payment of royalties and in 1984 the group split between Flash and Mel before disintegrating entirely. Flash, Kid Creole and Rahiem signed to Elektra while the others continued as Melle Mel and the Furious Five. They reformed in 1987 for a charity concert, to release one album and then fall apart again. There was another reunion, of a kind, in 1994, although Cowboy had died in 1989 from the effects of his crack addiction

Below from: BBC 1-Xtra Black History Month Edition

b. Joseph Saddler, 1 January 1958, Barbados, West Indies, but raised in the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. This pivotal force in early rap music grew up in the South Bronx, studying at Samuel Gompers Vocational Technical High School, spending his leisure time attending DJ parties thrown by early movers such as Grandmaster/DJ Flowers, MaBoya and DJ Pete Jones. The latter took him under his wing, and Flash intended to combine Jones' timing on the decks with the sort of records that Kool Herc was spinning. Hence in the early 70s Saddler set about discovering the way to segue records smoothly together, highlighting the "break" - the point in a record where the drum rhythm is isolated or accentuated - and repeating it. With admirable fortitude, Saddler spent upwards of a year in his apartment on 167th Street experimenting. The basis of his technique was to adapt Herc's approach, using two turntables each spinning the same record. He would then interrupt the flow of the disc offering the basic rhythm by overlaying the "break", repeating the process by switching channels on the mixer, as necessary. The complexity and speed of the operation (the second desk would have to be rotated backwards to the beginning of the "break" section) earned him the nickname Flash when he brought the style to his public, owing to the rapid hand movements.

However, attention grabbing though this was, the style had not yet quite gelled into what Flash required. He decided, instead, to invite a vocalist to share the stage with him. He worked in this respect with first Lovebug Starski, then Keith Wiggins. Wiggins would eventually come to be known as Cowboy within Grandmaster Flash's Furious Five, in the process becoming one of the first "MCs", delivering rhymes to accompany Flash's turntable wizardry. Flash continued in the block/park party vein for a considerable time, often illegally by hooking up his sound system to an intercepted mains cable until the police arrived. One person, at least, saw some commercial potential in his abilities, however. Ray Chandler stepped up and invited Flash to allow him to promote him, and charge an entrance fee (previous hip-hop events had always been free). Initially incredulous at the thought that anyone would actually pay to see them, Flash nevertheless accepted.

Flash put together a strong line-up of local talent to support him: Grandmaster Melle Mel (b. Melvin Glover, New York City, New York, USA) and his brother Kid Creole (b. Nathaniel Glover) joining Cowboy, this line-up initially titled Grandmaster Flash And The 3MCs. Two further rappers, Duke Bootee (b. Ed Fletcher) and Kurtis Blow subsequently joined, but were eventually replaced by Rahiem (b. Guy Todd Williams; ex-Funky Four) and Scorpio (b. Eddie Morris, aka Mr Ness). The Zulu Tribe was also inaugurated, with the express purpose of acting as security at live events: with Flash popularising the rap format, rival MCs sprang up to take their mentor and each other on. These head to heads often had the result of garnering the participants equipment as prize money. A crew who were not popular could expect to see their turntables and sound system rehabilitated for their troubles. Just as Jamaican sound system owners like Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd had done in the 60s, Flash, Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa would hide their records from prying eyes to stop their "sound" being pirated. Similarly, record labels were removed to avoid identifying marks.

The Furious Five, meanwhile, made their debut proper on 2 September 1976. Shortly afterwards they released their first record, "Super Rappin'", for Enjoy Records. Although hugely popular within the hip-hop fraternity, it failed to make commercial inroads, and Flash tried again with "We Rap Mellow" (as the Younger Generation on Brass). However, it would be Joe Robinson Jnr. of Sugarhill Records who finally bought out their Enjoy contract.

He had seen the Grandmaster in action at Disco Fever, "hip-hop's first home", which had opened in the Bronx in 1978. His wife, Sylvia, wrote and produced their subsequent record, a relationship which kicked off with "Freedom". On the back of a major tour, certainly the first in rap's embryonic history, the single sold well, going on to earn a gold disc. The follow-up "Birthday Party" was totally eclipsed by "The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel", the first rap record to use samples, and a musical tour de force, dramatically showcasing the Flash quickmixing and scratching skills. Memorable enough, it too was overshadowed when Sugarhill brought the band in to record one of Robinson's most memorable compositions (written in tandem with Bootee): "The Message". The single, with its daunting, apocalyptic rumblings, significantly expanded not just rap but black music's boundaries, though the Furious Five had been less convinced of its worth when it was first offered to them in demo form. In just over a month the record achieved platinum sales. In the wake of the record's success Flash enquired of his Sugarhill bosses why no money was forthcoming. When he did not receive satisfactory explanation, he elected to split, taking Kid Creole and Rahiem with him, signing to Elektra Records.

The others, headed by Melle Mel, would continue as Melle Mel And The Furious 5, scoring nearly instantly with another classic, "White Lines (Don't Do It)". Bearing in mind the subject matter of Mel's flush of success, it was deeply ironic that Flash had now become a freebase cocaine addict. In the 80s Flash's name largely retreated into the mists of rap folklore until he was reunited with his Furious Five in 1987 for a Paul Simon hosted charity concert in New York, and talk of a reunion in 1994 eventually led to the real thing. Back with the Furious Five he hosted New York's WQHT Hot 97 show, "Mic Checka", spinning discs while prospective rappers rang up to try to pitch their freestyle rhymes down the telephone. Unfortunately, the reunion would not include Cowboy, who died on 8 September 1989 after a slow descent into crack addiction. Flash also helped out on Terminator X's Super Bad set, which brought together many of the old school legends. In January 2002, he released an acclaimed mix album recreating the sounds of his legendary mid-70s block parties. 
As Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five The Message (Sugarhill 1982), as Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five Greatest Messages (Sugarhill 1983), as Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five On The Strength (Elektra 1988), They Said It Couldn't Be Done (Elektra 1985), The Source (Elektra 1986), Ba-Dop-Boom-Bang (Elektra 1987).

Compilations: as Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five/Grandmaster Melle Mel Greatest Hits (Sugarhill 1989), The Best Of ... (Rhino 1994), The Greatest Mixes (Deepbeats 1998), Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel 3-CD set (Sequel 1999), The Official Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash (Strut 2002).

HOME
BACK TO TOP
PART I
PART III
Some think Rap began with him and his boys