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A scientist at work!

A scientist at work!

I have found a new hero – Grandmaster Flash (GF)! I’ve always appreciated hip-hop and DJing, but never taken it to seriously. Then I read GF’s autobiography, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash, and was transformed. He was a boy brought up in the Bronx. He learned to love the records his father played in the house and listened to them whenever he could – even when he got a flogging for it. His parents soon discovered that GF had a gift with electronics. He would dismantle his sister’s hair dryer just to see how it worked. They sent him to electronics school and he excelled. He used his new found knowledge to build his first sound system, from items he found on the side of the street. He was introduced to the art of spinning records by DJ Kool Herc who used to hold block parties in the public parks of the Bronx. These block parties would be shut down immediately in this day, but back then the cops loved it as crime stopped for the day. Everyone in town would stop what they were doing and go to the block parties. Gangs that usually fought got their agro out by dancing at each other – the b-boys. GF started to mix his own records and turned it into an art form. He invented the quick-mix method, which allowed him to mix short funky breaks on an album for extended amounts of time. It was during these experiments that he discovered the zuka-zuka sound a record can make – the birth of scratching. He also invented clock theory by marking 12,3,6 and 9 o’clock on the record allowing him to know what was where on a given record. He would place his four fingers on these points and control the records this way. Radical at the time as no self-respecting DJ would touch their vinyl! Due to these discoveries GF is considered the father of hip-hop and turntabilism. He was also the first to encourage MC’s to work with the crowd while he did the sounds. This was the birth of rap and is famously captured in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I have discovered that GF was/is a scientist. He could have gone in any direction with his amazing electronic and analytical skills, and he choose music. Lucky for us. His innovations have resulted in entire genres of music and amazing sounds. Hip-hop is about music, dancing and graffitti, you can’t have one with out the other. And hip-hop GF tells us is about peace and love. Now that I didn’t know!

Here he is at work:

And 30-odd years after inventing it check what some of these guys can do now: Q’bert, considered by many to be the best turntablist kicking around at the moment.

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