The Message (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five song)
|Single by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five featuring Melle Mel and Duke Bootee|
|from the album The Message|
|B-side||"The Message" (instrumental)|
|Released||July 1, 1982|
|Format||CD, vinyl, cassette|
|Genre||Old school hip hop, political hip hop, electro|
|Writer(s)||Ed "Duke Bootee" Fletcher
Grandmaster Melle Mel
Clifton "Jiggs" Chase
|Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five chronology|
"The Message" is a song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It was released as a single by Sugar Hill Records on July 1, 1982 and was later featured on the group's first studio album, The Message. "The Message" was the first prominent hip hop song to provide a lyrical social commentary. It took rap music from the house parties to the social platforms later developed by groups like Public Enemy, N.W.A., and Rage Against The Machine. Melle Mel said in an interview with NPR: “Our group, like Flash and the Furious Five, we didn’t actually want to do the message because we was used to doing party raps and boasting how good we are and all that.” It is credited as the catalyst for the conscious Hip-Hop or political sub-genre of Hip-Hop music. It is a social narrative that details the struggles and difficulties due to living in poverty in the inner-city. In addition, it embodies the distress, anger, and sadness an individual experiences when confronting these inequalities. The description of various social and economic barriers followed by the mantra “don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head” exemplifies that it is not just the disparity in opportunity that is oppressive but also the emotional response that is debilitating. It is frequently referred to as the greatest record in hip hop history and was the first Hip-Hop record ever to be added to the United States' National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings.
Though not the first in the genre of rap to talk about the struggles and the frustrations of living in the ghetto, the song was unique in that it was set to a slower beat, refocusing the song on the lyrics over the music. The song was written and performed by Sugar Hill session musician Ed "Duke Bootee" Fletcher and Furious Five MC Melle Mel. Some of Mel's lyrics on "The Message" were taken directly from "Supperrappin'", a song he had recorded three years earlier. Flash and the other members of The Furious Five, although credited on the record, were uninterested in recording the song and are not found on the finished record. In the music video, Fletcher's verses are lip-synced by group member Rahiem.
Remixes appeared in 1995 and 1997.
This song is credited as the catalyst for the conscious Hip-Hop or political sub-genre of Hip-Hop music. It is a social narrative that details the struggles and difficulties due to living in poverty in the inner-city. In addition, it embodies the distress, anger, and sadness an individual experiences when confronting these inequalities. The description of various social and economic barriers followed by the mantra “don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head” exemplifies that it is not just the disparity in opportunity that is oppressive but also the emotional response that is debilitating. It is frequently referred to as the greatest record in hip hop history and was the first Hip-Hop record ever to be added to the United States' National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings.
"The Message" was included as in game radio music for the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and the 2006 video game Scarface: The World Is Yours, an adaption of the 1983 film. The signature synthesizer melody was also sampled and featured in multiple episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 TV series). For the MTV-produced compilation album Lit Riffs: The Soundtrack in 2004, the band Katsu supplied a stripped-down cover version of "The Message". The second and last verses of the song are sung by Mushroomhead in the song "Born of Desire" off their XX album. American singer-songwriter Willy Mason also covered this song for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on the 25th of February 2005.
In 2007, the 25th anniversary of "The Message", Melle Mel changed the spelling of his first name to Mele Mel and released "M3 - The New Message" as the first single to his first ever solo album, Muscles. 2007 is also the year that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip-hop act ever to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Melle Mel and Scorpio appeared in an Australian commercial for the Kia Sportage in which they perform "The Message".
Rolling Stone ranked "The Message" #51 in its List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (the highest placing for any song released in the 1980s, and highest ranking hip-hop song on the list). It was later named the greatest hip-hop song of all time in 2012.
In 2002, its first year of archival, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, the first hip hop recording ever to receive this honor.
"The Message" was number 5 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
Music and structure 
"The Message” has been reused and re-sampled in so many different ways that it would be easy to reduce its legacy to cliché. Music critic, Dan Carins, described it in a 2008 edition of The Sunday Times: "Where it was inarguably innovative, was in slowing the beat right down, and opening up space in the instrumentation - the music isn't so much hip-hop as noirish, nightmarish slow-funk, stifling and claustrophobic, with electro, dub and disco also jostling for room in the genre mix - and thereby letting the lyrics speak loud and clear”. Not only does the song utilize an ingenious mix of musical genres to great effect, but it also allows the slow and pulsating beat to take a backseat to the stark and haunting lyrical content.
Critical reception 
In addition to being widely regarded as an all-time rap anthem, "The Message" has been credited by many critics as the song that catapulted emcees from the background to the forefront of Hip-Hop. Thus, shifting the focus from the mixing and scratching of the grandmaster as the star, to the thoughts and lyrics of the emcee playing the star role. David Hickley wrote in 2004 that ""The Message" also crystallized a critical shift within rap itself. It confirmed that emcees, or rappers, had vaulted past the deejays as the stars of the music".
Chart positions 
|UK Singles Chart||8|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||62|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles||4|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play||12|
- "The Message '95" (Die Fantastischen Vier Remix) (1995, East West Records)
- "The Message" - 1997, Deepbeats Records (DEEPCD001)
- "Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Gross, Terry "The History of Hip-Hop.http://www.npr.org/2005/08/29/4821649/rapper-melle-mel-delivering-the-message]"
- Jeff Chang. (2005) Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. New York: St. Martin's Press. 179.
- "Old School Feature – “The Message”: A Classic That Almost Never Was". Oldschoolhiphop.com. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum - Inductee List". Rockhall.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Top 100 Rap Songs. About.com.
- "The National Recording Registry 2002". Loc.gov. 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- "''» The Good Old Days? - Road Safety (part 2; Tell It to the Kids''". Noise to Signal. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Cairns, Dan. "1982: Grandmaster Flash: The Message." Sunday Times: 25. Proquest Newsstand. 28 Sep 2008. Web. 1 Apr 2012.
- Hinckley, David. "Message from the Bronx the History of Rap in the City." New York Daily News: 67. Proquest Newsstand. 07 Dec 2004. Web. 01 Apr 2012.
- "Chart Stats - Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five". chartstats.com. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
- Richardson, Mark. "Editor in Chief". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 4, 2005.
- http://www.discogs.com/release/2041674 "The Message '95" (Die Fantastischen Vier Remix)
- ""The Message" - 1997 remix". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
Further reading 
- Chang, Jeff. (2005) Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. New York: St. Martin's Press.
- Loder, Kurt (September 16, 1982). "The Message : Grandmaster Flash : Review". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: The Message at Discogs (list of releases)
- Official Music Video