Melle Mel

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Melle Mel
Mel in 2010
Mel in 2010
Background information
Birth nameMelvin Glover
Also known asGrandmaster Melle Mel
Born (1961-05-15) May 15, 1961 (age 62)
New York City, U.S.[1]
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
Years active1978–present
Formerly ofGrandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Melvin Glover (born May 15, 1961), better known by his stage name Grandmaster Melle Mel or simply Melle Mel (/ˈmɛli mɛl/), is an American rapper who was the lead vocalist and songwriter of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.


Glover began performing in the late 1970s. He may have been the first rapper to call himself MC (master of ceremonies). Other Furious Five members included his brother Kidd Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Scorpio (Eddie Morris), Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams) and Cowboy (Keith Wiggins).[2] While a member of the group, Cowboy created the term hip-hop while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers.[3]

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five began recording for Enjoy Records and released "Superrappin'" in 1979.[2] They later moved on to Sugar Hill Records and were popular on the R&B charts with party songs like "Freedom" and "The Birthday Party". They released numerous singles, gaining a gold disc for "Freedom", and touring. In 1982 Melle Mel began to turn to more socially-aware subject matter, in particular the Reagan administration's economic (Reaganomics) and drug policies, and their effect on the black community.

A song "The Message" became an instant classic and one of the first examples of conscious hip-hop by exploring personal and social themes.[2] Mel recorded a rap over session musician Duke Bootee's instrumental track "The Jungle". Some of Mel's lyrics on "The Message" were taken directly from "Superrappin'". Other than Melle Mel, no members of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five actually appear on the record. Bootee also contributed vocals (Rahiem was to later lip sync Bootee's parts in the music video).

"The Message" would later be the first hip-hop record ever to be added to the United States National Archive of Historic Recordings and the first hip hop record inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Mel would also go on to write songs about struggling life in New York City ("New York, New York"), and making it through life in general ("Survival (The Message 2)"). Grandmaster Flash split from the group after contract disputes between Melle Mel and their promoter Sylvia Robinson in regard to royalties for "The Message".[2] When Flash filed a lawsuit against Sugar Hill Records, the factions of The Furious Five parted.[2]

Mel became known as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the leader of the Furious Five.[2] The group went on to produce the anti-drug song "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)".[2] An unofficial music video starred up-and-coming actor Laurence Fishburne[4] and was directed by then-unknown film student Spike Lee. The record was falsely credited to "Grandmaster + Melle Mel" by Sugar Hill Records,[2] in order to fool the public into thinking Grandmaster Flash had participated on the record.

Mel gained greater fame and success after appearing in the movie Beat Street, with a song based on the movie's title. He performed a memorable rap on Chaka Khan's smash hit song "I Feel for You",[2] which introduced hip hop to a wider and more mainstream R&B audience. Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five had further hits with "Step Off", "Pump Me Up", "King of the Streets", "Jesse", and "Vice", the latter being released on the soundtrack to the TV show Miami Vice. "Jesse" was a highly political song which urged people to vote for then presidential candidate Jesse Jackson.

In 1988, after an almost four-year layoff, Mel and Flash reunited and released the album On The Strength, but with up-and-coming new school artists such as Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, and Big Daddy Kane dominating the hip-hop market, the album failed miserably. Mel performed with The King Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew on "King Holiday" aimed at having Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday declared a national holiday. Mel also performed with Artists United Against Apartheid on the anti-apartheid song "Sun City" which was aimed at discouraging other artists from performing in South Africa until its government ended its policy of apartheid. Mel ended the decade by winning two Grammy Awards for his work on Quincy Jones' Back on the Block and Q – The Autobiography of Quincy Jones albums.

In 1995, Duran Duran did a cover version of "White Lines" featuring performances from Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel and released it as the second single from their cover album Thank You.

In 1996, Mel contributed vocals to the US edition of Cher's hit "One By One". Their version is only available on the maxi CD format.

In 1997, Melle Mel signed to Straight Game Records and released Right Now,[2] an album which features Scorpio (from the Furious Five) and Rondo. This album took more of a harder rap style. It barely sold at all in the US and the UK.[2]

Mel and Ralph McDaniels a.k.a. Uncle Ralph

In 2001, under the name Die Hard, he released the song "On Lock" with Rondo on the soundtrack of the movie Blazin. Die Hard released an album of the same name in 2002 on 7PRecords.

On November 14, 2006, Mel collaborated with author Cricket Casey and released the children's book The Portal in the Park, which comes with a bonus CD of his rapped narration. It also features two songs, "World Family Tree" and "The Fountain of Truth", by a then unknown Lady Gaga performing with Mel. The book was re-released in 2010. Also in 2006, Melle Mel attended professional wrestling school. In 2007 (at age 45), he stated in an interview with that "I'm going to try to take some of John Cena's money and get with WWE and do my thing".

On January 30, 2007, Mel released his first ever solo album, Muscles. The first single and music video was "M3 – The New Message". On March 12, 2007, Melle Mel and The Furious Five (joined by DJ Grandmaster Flash) became the first rap group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech, Mel implored the recording industry members in attendance to do more to restore hip hop to the culture of music and art that it once was, rather than the culture of violence that it has become. He added, "I've never been shot, I've never been arrested, and I've been doing hip hop all my life. I can't change things all by myself. We need everybody's help, so let's do it and get this thing done."

On October 10, 2008, Mel appeared on Bronx-based culinary adventure show Bronx Flavor alongside host Baron Ambrosia. In the episode "Night at the Bodega", he appears as a spiritual mentor to sway the Baron from his over-indulgent ways and get him on the right path to success.

In April 2011, it was revealed that he would take part in a new hip hop/pro wrestling collaboration, the Urban Wrestling Federation. Its first bout "First Blood" was recorded in June 2011.

Mel also appeared in Ice-T's 2012 hip hop documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap.

In August 2015, Mel appeared with Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's song and music video "Downtown".

In May 2016, Mel and Scorpio, performing as Grandmaster's Furious Five ft. Melle Mel & Scorpio, released their single "Some Kind of Sorry".[5]


Studio albums[edit]

List of albums
Title Album details
(as Grandmaster Mele Mel)

Group albums[edit]

List of group albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions

The Message
(as part of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
53 8 78 14 77
On the Strength
(as part of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • Released: April 12, 1988
  • Label: Elektra
  • Formats: CD, LP, cassette, digital download, streaming
On Lock
(as part of Die Hard)
  • Released: December 4, 2001
  • Label: 7P/Crucial
  • Formats: CD, digital download, streaming
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Collaborative albums[edit]

List of collaborative albums, with selected chart positions.
Title Album details Peak chart positions

Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five
(with the Furious Five)
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: Sugar Hill
  • Formats: CD, LP, cassette, streaming
43 45
(with the Furious Five)
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: New Day
  • Formats: LP, cassette
Right Now
(with Scorpio)
  • Released: April 8, 1997
  • Label: Str8 Game
  • Formats: CD, cassette, digital download
Portal in the Park
(with Cricket Casey)
  • Released: November 14, 2006
  • Label: Black Solaris
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Year Title Chart positions
US 200
1983 Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
1984 Greatest Messages 41
1993 The Greatest Hits
  • Released: 2006
  • Label: Sequel (UK)
1994 Message from Beat Street: The Best of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & the Furious Five
1996 The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & the Furious Five: More of the Best
  • Released: July 1, 1996
  • Label: Rhino Records
1997 The Greatest Mixes
1999 Adventures on the Wheels of Steel
1999 The Showdown: The Sugarhill Gang Vs. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
2005 Essential Cuts
  • Released: June 27, 2005
  • Label: Union Square Music
2006 Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and the Furious Five: The Definitive Groove Collection
  • Released: August 8, 2006
  • Label: Rhino Records
2007 The Essential
  • Released: February 12, 2007
  • Label: Union Square Music
2010 Kings of the Streets
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  • 1979 "We Rap More Mellow" (as The Younger Generation)[14]
  • 1979 "Flash to the Beat" (as Flash and the Furious 5)
  • 1979 "Superrappin'" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1980 "Freedom" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1980 "The Birthday Party" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1981 "Showdown" (as The Furious Five Meets The Sugarhill Gang)
  • 1981 "It's Nasty (Genius of Love)" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1981 "Scorpio" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1981 "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1982 "The Message" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1982 "Message II (Survival)" (as Melle Mel & Duke Bootee)
  • 1983 "New York New York" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1983 "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" (as Grandmaster & Melle Mel / Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five / Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel)[15]
  • 1984 "Continuous White Lines" (remix – as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five)
  • 1984 "Jesse" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel)
  • 1984 "Beat Street Breakdown" a.k.a. "Beat Street" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five)
  • 1984 "Step Off" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five)
  • 1984 "We Don't Work for Free" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five)
  • 1984 "World War III" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five / Grandmaster Melle Mel)
  • 1985 "King Of the Streets" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel)
  • 1985 "Pump Me Up" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five)
  • 1985 "Vice" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel)
  • 1985 "The Mega-Melle Mix" (as Melle Mel)
  • 1988 "Gold" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1988 "Magic Carpet Ride" (as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1994 "Sun Don't Shine in the Hood" (Split 12" single with "Da Original" as The Furious Five)
  • 1995 "The Message 95" (Remix – as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
  • 1997 "The Message" (Remix – as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  • 1997 "Mama" (as Grandmaster Mele-Mel & Scorpio)
  • 1997 "Mr. Big Stuff" (as Grandmaster Mele-Mel & Scorpio)
  • 2003 "Where Ya At?" (as Melle Mel)
  • 2007 "M-3" (as Grandmaster Mele Mel)
  • 2011 "Markus Schulz Presents Dakota feat. Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio" – Sleepwalkers
  • 2014 "Don't Shoot" (as Grandmaster Melle Mel)
  • 2016 "Some Kind of Sorry" (as Grandmaster's Furious Five Ft. Mele Mel & Scorpio)


  • 1984 "I Feel for You" by Chaka Khan
  • 1986 "MC Story" by MC Chill and Emanon (The Baby Beatbox)
  • 1986 "Susie" by Emanon
  • 1986/87 "Who Do You Think You're Funkin' With" — collaborating with Afrika Bambaataa
  • 1989 "What's the Matter with Your World?" (with Van Silk)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1990 "Back on the Block" Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Won [16]
1996 "Stomp" Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated


  1. ^ Molly Crane-Newman (March 25, 2018). "Bronx hip hop icons celebrate borough's cultural heritage, highlighting its musical significance and world-famous zoo". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 220/1. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  3. ^ Fricke, Jim; Ahearn, Charlie (2002). Fricke, Jim; Ahearn, Charlie (eds.). Yes Yes Y'all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-hop's First Decade. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306812248.
  4. ^ "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" unofficial video at YouTube
  5. ^ "First Listen: Grandmaster's Furious 5 ft Mele Mel and Scorpio – Some Kind of Sorry". Jammerzine. April 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Doug E. Fresh Chart History". Billboard 200. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  7. ^ "Doug E. Fresh Chart History". Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 267.
  9. ^ "Stetsasonic Chart History (Dutch Charts)". Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Stetsasonic – UK Chart". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Doug E. Fresh Chart History". Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Grandmaster Flash > Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  13. ^ "Grandmaster Flash – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "the younger generation – we rap more mellow". September 4, 2007. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  15. ^ "Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: White Lines (Don't Do It): Record Sleeve". Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  16. ^ "Melle Mel". Grammy. November 23, 2020. Retrieved April 4, 2021.

External links[edit]