Grandmaster Melle Mel Has An Unpleasant Message For Grandmaster Flash
Thirty-three years ago, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 made one of Hip-Hop’s seminal singles, “The Message.” In 2015, two of the Furious 5’s MCs, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio, have a message for Flash: pay up.
“No matter what happens, if you say ‘Grandmaster Flash,’ you think of ‘Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five,’ but you never get to the ‘Furious Five’ part. With that, [Grandmaster Flash] does like 200 shows a year and me and [Scorpio] are lucky to do like nine shows,” the legendary Bronx, New York MC told AllHipHop.com this past week. “But, we all based on the same group and the same music that Flash really never had a part in the music.” Melle Mel says that he and Scorpio are exploring legal actions again Flash to receive royalties they feel they have been wrongfully denied.
Melle Mel continued that he is not properly recognized for the group’s impact. “As far as the group go, I did all the heavy lifting. I wrote every song. I’m the one that worked with Quincy Jones. I was the one that worked with Chaka Khan. I was the one that worked with Harry Belafonte. Flash is sitting on the side and he’s taking all the credit. If you look at ‘The Message’ video it ain’t like there is a DJ in the video. So, the average person would come out of to see the body of work that Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five did, the average person would come to the conclusion that I was Grandmaster Flash because I was the face of the group. Somehow, he’s holding that against me like I took something away from him. I changed it to ‘Grandmaster Melle Mel’ because we’re trying to sell records. He still benefited from it. No matter what we did, it still came back to Grandmaster Flash. When I see Grandmaster Flash, he looks at me like some kind of back-up dancer… Why would he [do] that? I bled for this dude.”
Heads who followed Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five closely in the 1980s know that this is not at all the group’s first internal issue. Starting in 1984, following several acclaimed singles (“The Message,” “White Lines,” “The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel”) the group would split into two factions. Melle Mel, Scorpio, and the late Cowboy left to form Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five. The group—which also included DJ E.Z. Mike as Flash’s replacement behind the turntables, included several new MCs for their Sugar Hill Records debut. Meanwhile, as simply “Grandmaster Flash,” Joseph Sadler would join members Raheim and Kidd Creole to release three albums, along with several Rap prospects. Notably, Flash’s outfit signed with Elektra Records, with two of their three albums breaking the Top 200—an achievement Mel’s group could not claim.
Melle Mel said that he and Flash have not worked together in more than 15 years. In a recent interview with YaHeard.com, fellow Furious Five member Scorpio alleged that Grandmaster Flash passed on the late ’90s/early 2000s Hennessy liquor campaign, due to the French cognac-maker wanting The Furious Five included (the campaign famously went to Rakim). Mel says that a similar attitude towards the Sugar Hill Records group prevented the outfit from performing at Cleveland, Ohio’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, alongside Common, Lupe Fiasco, LL Cool J, and Rick Ross.
“He don’t wanna work with us,” explained Melvin Glover, whose MC achievements are analyzed in Ambrosia For Heads’ recent “Finding The GOAT: Nostalgia” documentary. “I don’t necessarily wanna work with him either. Flash stands behind me, he always did… If I don’t have no problem with that, he shouldn’t have no problem with that. In the past 15 years, he’s done thousands of shows, did about three albums – none of them you could wipe your ass with—that’s how garbage they are,” lambasted Mel. “At the end of the day, we deserve to work how he works, because I put in my work to make Grand Master Flash Grandmaster Flash. I don’t think he put in any work to make Melle Mel.”
As Grandmaster Flash is regularly revered as one of Hip-Hop’s pioneers, do you feel as though this point is valid? Are the Furious Five held back in the history books through the disjointed history of the group?