Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

The hip hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was formed in South Bronx, New York City in 1976. Consisting of one DJ and five rappers, the group played a significant role in the development of early hip hop music, incorporating elements such as break-beat deejaying, turntablism and socially conscious lyrics.

The group was active from 1976 to 1982, and then returned again briefly in 1987-1988. They achieved mainstream success when the song Freedom became a hit in 1980, followed up by the highly acclaimed album The Message in 1982. The group’s second album On the Strength was released in 1987, after which the group disbanded for good.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential of the early hip hop acts. The group was honored at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors in 2005 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, making them the very first hip hop group in the hall. Their vinyl records and the turntable used by DJ Grandmaster Flash is on display at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.


Role Name Stage name
DJ Joseph Saddler Grandmaster Flash
Rapper Robert Keith Wiggins Keef Cowboy
Rapper Melvin Glover Melle Mel
Rapper Nathaniel Glover Jr. The Kidd Creole
Rapper Edward Morris Mr. Ness / Scorpio
Rapper Guy Todd Williams Rahiem


  • 1976-1982
  • 1987-1988


  • Enjoy!
  • Sugar Hill
  • Elektra


The early years

During the mid-1970s, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five built a local fan base by performing at parties and live shows in New York City.

Their first single was called ”We Rap More Mellow”, but it is registered as ”The Younger Generation” since the producer preferred that name.

When the hip hop track Rapper’s Delight by Sugarhill Gang became a huge hit in the U.S., Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five realized that they should try to get a record deal since hip hop music actually had the potential to go mainstream. They signed on with Enjoy Records and released the single Superappin in 1979.

Singles: Freedom & Happy Birthday

After the release of Superappin, the group signed with Sugar Hill Records, a newly formed record label specializing in hip hop music. It was with Sugar Hill Recordings that the group released Freedom in 1980 – a single that sold over 50,000 copies and reached #19 on the R&B chart. Freedom was followed by the single Birthday Party which also sold well.

Album: The Message

The group only released one album while their original line-up was still together, and this album was The Message, which came out in October 1982 on Sugar Hill Records. It charted at #53 in the United States and #77 in the United Kingdom.

Singles from The Message
  1. “It’s Nasty”
    Released: 1981
  2. “Scorpio”
    Released: 1981
  3. “The Message”
    Released: 1982


Disputes over royalties caused the group to break up in 1983, with the members forming new constellations.

  • Melle Mel, Mr. Ness/Scorpio and Cowboy formed Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five.
  • Grandmaster Flash, The Kidd Creole and Rahiem signed with Elektra Records and worked under the name Grandmaster. They brougth three new membes into their newformed group: Kevin L. Duke / The Lord LaVon, Russell Wheeler / Mr. Broadway and Larry Parker / Larry-Love.


In 1987, the original lineup joined forces again to perform at a charity concert in Madison Square Garden. Not long thereafter, they began working on a studio album together, eventually releasing On the Strength in April 1988. The album did not become as successful as The Message.


Examples of musical acts influenced by Grandmaster Flash and the Furios Five:

Beastie Boys
Busta Rhymes
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Ice Cube
New Order
Public Enemy
Snoop Dogg
Tupac Shakur
Wu-Tang Clan