During hip-hop’s nearly 30-year history, few names have become as well known to music lovers across the globe as that of Grandmaster Flash. Not only is he responsible for inventing the musical genre called Hip Hop but his pioneering use of the turntables make him The First DJ to play the Turntables as a Musical Instrument thus helping to elevate the status of the DJ to a masterful, artistic position. He is also responsible for assembling one of the earliest and greatest rap groups of all time – The Furious Five – these are some of the hallmarks of a career which has extended from the Bronx in the early 1970s to all corners of the globe into the 21st century.
Of Bajan decent Joseph Saddler, professionally known as “Flash” was born and raised in the Boogie down Bronx, and it was the area’s streets and nightlife that provided his inspirations. He developed his first crush on vinyl when he was just a boy playing with his Fathers records. By the time he was a teenager, studying electronics and engineering in school by day, he was already spinning records at block parties and in public parks.
Studying one particular DJ, known as Kool Herc, one of his greatest influences apart from his very own Father, and monitoring the crowd’s responses, led him to create and elevate this turntable art form as he developed such innovative turntable techniques as rearranging the arrangement of recorded songs and by extending the break in those recorded songs. He did this by using duplicate copies of a vinyl record and by manipulating his wrist and elbow moving it back and forth.. As early as 1971 he was scientifically inventing and demonstrating such methods and concepts he collectively called "The Quick Mix Theory " which encompassed the innovative technique of "Cutting" which laid the foundations for what became known as "Scratching" ( along with its many off shoots; "crab scratching"; "transforming"; and "flaring" ) as well as the "Doubleback/Back Door"; "Phasing"; and "Backspinning". Then came the "Clock Theory" which allowed Flash to find the break of a recorded song quickly by eye, by marking the vinyl with tape or a crayon. .. This manual display of taking a song apart and rearranging its structure live on stage contributed to the early development and rise of the DJ as a Remixer, Artist, and Producer.
These innovations quickly became recognized worldwide, and put both Flash and the Bronx on the worldwide musical map. Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, recently honored Flash with the DJ Vanguard Award for being the First to utilize the turntables as a musical instrument.
Hip-Hop Culture was created in 1971 by three DJs , Flash being one of them, and then, contrary to popular belief, came the graffitti writers and the breakdancers, and the MCs followed much later.