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Pioneers

Grandmaster Flash


By Christine Obiamalu


Grandmaster Flash


Joseph Saddler is an American hip hop recording artist and DJ and is considered to be one of the pioneers of hip hop DJing, cutting, scratching and mixing.

DJ Grandmaster Flash and his group the Furious Five were hip-hop's greatest innovators, transcending the genre's party-music origins to explore the full scope of its lyrical and sonic horizons. Flash began spinning records as a teen growing up in the Bronx, performing live at area dances and block parties. By age 19, while attending technical school courses in electronics during the day, he was also spinning on the local disco circuit. Over time, he developed a series of groundbreaking techniques including "cutting" (moving between tracks exactly on the beat), "back-spinning" (manually turning records to repeat brief snippets of sound), and "phasing" (manipulating turntable speeds) -- in short, creating the basic vocabulary which DJs continue to follow even today. Robert Keith Wiggins, a.k.a. "Cowboy" of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, is credited with naming hip-hop; the term became a common phrase used by MCs as part of a scat-inspired style of rhyming.

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