Grandmaster vs Grandmaster? Hip Hop Dispute May Go to Court

The success of ‘Some Kind of Sorry’, the new single from Grandmaster’s Furious Five ft Mele Mel and Scorpio is definitely something to celebrate. The band embark on a UK tour with Sugarhill Gang at the end of this month, before returning to the US to tour with Public Enemy, Ice-T, Naughty by Nature and many others on 2016’s Art of Rap tour.

However, DJ Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler), perhaps feeling that there’s only room for one Grandmaster in Hip Hop, has embarked on a mission to try and stop Grandmaster Mele Mel (Melvin Glover) performing under the name he’s been known by for over three decades. It’s unclear as to whether Flash will also be targeting the likes of Grandmaster Caz and Grandmaster Dee of Whodini.

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five were South Bronx Hip Hop pioneers responsible for some of the genre’s best known tracks  – ‘The Message’ was recently selected as number one in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Hip Hop Tracks of All Time… However, in a situation reminiscent of the infamous Milli Vanilli saga in which that band were found not to have performed on any of their own hits, Grandmaster Flash, happy to bask in the glory of these seminal releases, doesn’t actually feature on any of the studio recordings he’s built his career on.
By the time ‘White Lines’ was released, Flash who was the band’s live DJ, had parted ways with The Furious Five. This record was credited to Grandmaster and Melle Mel, who then himself adopted ‘Grandmaster’, releasing many records using this title.

The ‘Grandmaster vs Grandmaster’ fight looks set to be played out in court, and whilst Grandmaster Mele Mel and Scorpio say they “respect Flash as a pioneer of progressive DJ techniques” they’re baffled as to why their former bandmate would embark on such a seemingly nonsensical legal challenge.


Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five formed in the South Bronx of New York City in 1978 and comprised five rappers Mele Mel, The Kidd Creole, Keith Cowboy, Scorpio, and Rahiem, together with one DJ, Grandmaster Flash.

The group’s use of turntablism, break-beat deejaying, choreographed stage routines and lyricism was a significant force in the early development of Hip Hop music.

Whilst rapping a scat routine at a party for a friend who had just joined the US Army, Cowboy began scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop” in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of the marching drill. He then worked the “hip hop” cadence into part of his performance. This evolved into the term ‘Hip Hop’, which was later adopted by the industry.

Melvin ‘Mele Mel’ Glover, the first person to call himself MC, was born in The Bronx in New York City. A former Break Dancer aka B-Boy, he was responsible for writing the first Hip Hop style rhyme. He is known as an exceptional lyricist, song writer and hip hop pioneer.

Eddie ‘Mr. Ness/Scorpio’ Morris was born in The Bronx in New York City and was also a Break Dancer before picking up the microphone. Scorpio was instrumental in the group’s uniform style through the 1980’s when they wore leather. Scorpio is known for his dextrous rhymes and flamboyant poses on stage, in photos and videos.

DJ Grandmaster Flash does not perform with the lineup currently touring. Originator of the ‘scratch’, Joseph Sadler aka Grandmaster Flash was the DJ in the group and never recorded on any of the records that were released under the name Grandmaster Flash and The Furious 5. UK top ten hits ‘White Lines’, ‘Step Off’, and ‘Beat Street’ were recorded after Grandmaster Flash was released from the group. The single ‘White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)’ is credited to ‘Grandmaster & Mele Mel’.

The Furious Five have influenced many musical acts such as The Cold Crush Brothers, Run-D.M.C., Whodini, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One, EPMD, Stetsasonic, Doug E. Fresh, Salt-n-Pepa, Ultramagnetic MC’s, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Eminem, Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, DJ Quik, Beastie Boys, Hieroglyphics, Too Short, Wu-tang Clan, Digital Underground, Tupac Shakur, NWA, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ludacris, Heavy D, and The Roots, among many others. Ice Cube recorded a song titled ‘Check Yo Self’ with Das EFX, the remix of which sampled the music of ‘The Message’.

On March 12th 2007 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith and Van Halen.

Social Links:

Grandmaster’s Furious Five ft Mele Mel & Scorpio – ‘The Message’

Live Dates:

22nd April – LA
23rd April – New Jersey
26th April – Canada
27th April – Canada
28th April – Canada
29th April – Canada
30th April – Canada
27th May – Netherlands
28th May – Southampton
28th May – The Live Room, Manchester
29th May – Surrey
31st May – Tramshed, Cardiff
1st June – The Waterfront, Norwich
2nd June – Warehouse 23, Wakefield
3rd June – Hard Rock Café, Glasgow
4th June – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
5th June – Riverside, Newcastle
7th June – The Venue, Derby
8th June – The Assembly, Leamington Spa
9th June – The Marble Factory, Bristol
10th June – Ireland
11th June – Ireland
12th June – O2 Academy Islington, London

Categories: Announcement/News

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