Charity Shoppin' #1: The Message

(Photo by Dangershrew)

Its like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder/How I keep from going under

The old school hip hop continues apace with maybe the most respected track on the album. The Message was probably as big a deal as White Lines, but even more culturally significant when looking into hip hop's nascent years. It was one of the first rap songs to veer away from the posturing into describing the struggles of ghetto life; like White Lines, it's a cautionary tale of Noo Yawk life - whereas in modern day rap the gangster life is glorified, the drugs, guns and women are the shizzle, The Message describes a life where these people are looked up to, but feared; a kitchen-sink take on the glamourised and stylised ghetto.

Youll admire all the number book takers

Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers

Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens

And you wanna grow up to be just like them

Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers

Pickpockets, peddlers and even pan-handlers

You say "I'm cool, I'm no fool"

But then you wind up dropping out of high school

Don't push 'cos I'm close to the edge

It's gritty and bleak, in many ways, but musically speaking it's one of the greats of early hip hop - it's synth break alone is infamous and has been copied and sampled many, many times. It's another one of those where what is now looked at as retro or passé was cutting edge at the time, and paved the way for the whole of the 80's. It's parent album, of the same title, is maybe one of the most important in understanding the roots of hip hop, so that would be your advised purchase.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five feat. Melle Mel and Duke Bootee - The Message

Buy Grandmaster Flash/Melle Mel/Duke Bootee

Tags: hip hop; rap; Grandmaster Flash; Furious Five; Melle Mel; Duke Bootee; The Message

PS. You would be exceeding remiss in not checking out Tim's most wonderful Contrast Podcast, this with the theme of 'who'. Anyone hoping for an hour of the Who will be disappointed, but anyone else will be mightily overjoyed, with some fine contributions, and mine (see here for reference).


Tim Young said...

Thanks for being on the Contrast as always Simon .. I presume you saw my message about the gig this Saturday? Ta, Tim

Oh Simone said...

Yes ta Tim - doesn't look likely, but stranger things have happened.

BVS said...

Simon, you'll be quite jealous, but i grew up a mere 5 minutes from the home of Sugar Hill Records, and their home base, Sugar Hill Studios, which tragically burned down a few years ago. Unfortunately, i never did get to see Big Bank Hank at the teller's line, or any member of the Furius Five anywhere near the Palisades (a series of cliffs that are on the Hudson river - quite literally, an edge).