On March 3rd, 2009, legendary hip hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash releases ‘The Bridge’ on Adrenaline City Entertainment via Strut, his first high profile studio album since his final recordings for Elektra back in 1987. “As a DJ, I’ve been blessed to see many different people, places and styles. The album title represents all the bridges I’ve crossed worldwide,” explains Flash. “The bridges of time, cultures and colour, the bridges of hip hop, funk, pop, rock, jazz, punk, disco and R&B.”
Recorded at Flash’s own Adrenaline Lab studio in New York during 2007-2008, the over-riding theme of the album is the global language of hip hop. “Wherever I travel as a DJ, I see the incredible power of this artform,” Flash explains. “I am constantly amazed by it. That’s the line that runs through the album – we speak many languages and come from many cultures but, wherever I go in the world, there is one universal culture of hip hop.”
Based on this theme, Flash features the track ‘We Speak Hip Hop’ as a centrepiece, bringing together a multi-national tag team consisting of four MCs rapping in their own languages. KASE-O (from Spanish crew Violadores Del Verso), MACCHO (from Ozrosaurus, Japan), ABASS (Senegal) and AFASI (from Afasi & Filthy, Sweden) trade verses for the first track of its kind. “I used one of my main battle breaks from back in the day for this one and I chose MCs who had the right flow,” continues Flash. “It wasn’t about finding the biggest names – some of the guys are known widely in their own country, some are more underground. It was more about the right chemistry. KRS ONE glues this one together with the main hook and the final verse.”
Throughout the album, Flash mixes up the flow and features some heavyweight guests and intriguing collaborations. Familiar faces appearing on the album include BUSTA RHYMES on the X-rated special, ‘Bounce Back’, A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-TIP, alongside Will Smith collaborator KEL SPENCER and JUMZ on the poetic ‘Shine All Day’ and SNOOP DOGG alongside mixtape hero RED CAFÉ and LYN CARTER on the bumpin’, mid-tempo swayer, ‘Swagger’.
The original hip hop teacher KRS-ONE imagines a world without hip hop on the hilarious and insightful ‘What If?’ – “No Will Smith, no Queen Latifah / There’d only be tight jeans and black sneakers!” BIG DADDY KANE gets funky with hot new female Philadelphia MC HEDONIS DA AMAZON on the steamy mid-tempo jam ‘When I Get There’; on ‘Those Chix’, Flash sets up an all-female soundclash between MTV favourite BYATA, HEDONIS DA AMAZON and electro queen PRINCESS SUPERSTAR for a Miami bass-style party joint; he presents his son, J-FLO on his debut recording alongside Def Jam MC LORDIKIM ALLAH and ALMIGHTY THOR on the raucous ‘I Got Sumtin’ To Say’; and Lost Boyz’ MR. CHEEKS teams up with old skool heroes GRANDMASTER CAZ of Cold Crush Brothers and TITO of Fearless Four swapping bars on ‘Can I Take You Higher’.
For all fans of his turntable work, Flash features two DJ tracks: “I have one called ‘Here Comes My DJ’ featuring DJ KOOL who barks out commands,” explains Flash. “Kool goes way back – he was by far the first to do that full volume party MC style. I also have a track with SUPERNAT called ‘Tribute To The Breakdancer’ which is a party break. It’s one for the floor and I read out a roll call of the real pioneers of the artform right at the start of the track. Some of those guys never get mentioned in the history books.”
“As well as making an album for hip hop fans, I want this release to set the record straight,” says Flash. “There’s still confusion about who I am and what I do. A lot of people still think that I’m an MC – I am a DJ and a producer. This album contains a lot of the elements from the many countries and cultures I have experienced from pop to underground, from alternative to mainstream.”
Grandmaster Flash is one of the undisputed pioneers of hip hop. He is recognized worldwide as the first DJ to make the turntables an instrument, famously developing his ‘Quick Mix Theory’ mix techniques during the ‘70s which are now used by DJs the world over. Through his fabled block parties and, later, live shows and releases with The Furious Five, Flash was responsible for recording the first live DJ mix to be committed to wax and for masterminding groundbreaking live sets that lifted the bar for hip hop. Through his work, hip hop was first taken seriously as a sustainable artform that could both pack a lyrical punch and pull audiences on a par with traditional mainstream rock and pop acts.
Grandmaster Flash ‘The Bridge’ is released on March 3rd, 2009. In June 2008, the autobiography ‘The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats’ was published by Random House, written by Flash himself and top author David Ritz. The book provides a valuable insight into Flash’s early years growing up in the Bronx and his personal experience at the advent of hip hop culture.
Flash was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame during 2007. He endorses and uses the Tractor Scratch digital vinyl system – “the analogue inventor has gone digital”.
GRANDMASTER FLASH – THE BRIDGE
Label: Adrenaline Entertainment / Strut
Release date: March 3rd, 2009
2. SHINE ALL DAY feat. Q-Tip, Kel Spencer & Jumz
3. WE SPEAK HIP HOP feat. KRS One, Afasi, Kase-O, Maccho & Abass
4. HERE COMES MY DJ feat. DJ Kool & DJ Demo
5. BOUNCE BACK feat. Busta Rhymes
6. SWAGGER feat. Red Café, Snoop Dogg & Lyn Carter
7. WHAT IF feat. KRS-One
9. TRIBUTE TO THE BREAKDANCER feat. Supernat
10. CAN I TAKE YOU HIGHER feat. Mr Cheeks, Grandmaster Caz & Tito
11. GROWN & SEXY feat. Lordikim Allah
12. WHEN I GET THERE feat. Big Daddy Kane & Hedonis Da Amazon
14. I GOT SUMTHIN’ TO SAY feat. Lord Ikim Allah, J-Flo & Almighty Thor
15. UNPREDICTABLE feat. Syndee & Big Daddy Kane
16. THOSE CHIX feat. Byata, Princess Superstar & Hedonis Da Amazon
17. BRONX BOMBERS feat. Lordikim Allah, Almighty Thor & Mann Child
19. OH MAN (Intro)
20. OH MAN feat. Syndee & Natacha Atlas