Grandmaster Flash is an international legend. The man helped break hip-hop ground in the mid-Â´70s from a street corner in the Bronx. Back then, it was an entirely new and progressive cultural movement. Of course, hip-hop would go on to reach the farthest corners of the earth.
Today Flash will be closing out the wildly popular Starbucks Music Series that has showcased Jean-Michel Basquiat's street-art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston since November.
"Although New York is a mecca, it's good that so many other places around the world have come along and added subcultures to the culture, musically speaking," says Flash. "In order for something to last, it has to constantly keep reinventing itself."
When Flash started out, he didn't have it so easy as today's DJs. Not only was the technology in its earliest stages -- back then, there were no portable mixers or turntables that could take a beating -- but finding records required a whole lot of time. "I was a small fish in a very big record pond," says Flash. "It took weeks, going into lots of shops and playing lots of records just to find that one song that the audience would come to hear. It kind of made the DJ shine for a minute."
Though hip-hop didn't bump from the block parties of New York to the world until the advent of MCs like Kurtis Blow and the Furious Five, it was Flash's idea to "cut" pieces of old disco and funk tracks and lay them down with heavy-handed drum beats for an MC to rap over. Hip-hop stars the world over have Flash to thank.
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Flash has deejayed New York's hottest radio stations, the hippest celebrity parties and the top awards ceremonies. His music still resonates around the world week after week on the uncensored Sirius Radio show The Flash Mash. "I have a story to tell, and I have a lot of records to play," he says. "I'm actually going to reduplicate my struggling years, when it was just me, trying to make something happen on the dance floor. A great DJ is considered a rarity these days."
Sat., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.