The year was 1982, some 34 years ago when Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five released The Message. Up until then hip hop was about the beat, the rhythm, and the flashy dancefloor moves with lyrics like “I said a hip hop hippy, hippy to the hip hip hop you don’t stop the rock” by The Sugarhill Gang in 1979. Hip hop crews of the time were focusing on the fun someone can have, excluding explicit lyrics and the hardships of living in the ghetto.
Then came Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five with The Message to rock the boat of the genre. It was the first song ever to address the problems of living in the American ghetto and the first song to represent the minority. Lyrics like “Broken glass everywhere, people pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care. I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise, got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice” reflect the reality of the poor neighborhoods of the time. It was the time when the underrepresented needed to be heard out and The Message delivered just that.
The social message that this song diffuses is strong and prominent. The artists seem to be concerned also with the damage of watching excessive television as referred to the song: “My brother’s doing bad, stole my mother’s TV,says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy. All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night, can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight,” meaning that people got stuck to watching all the trash soap operas America has to offer them, and keep wanting it endlessly. The artists refer to the educational system as well by implying that the poor minority is seen as a failure by teachers and this leads the youth to not want to go to school since their primary objective is to make money in any possible way because they are deprived of the basics.
The song made a huge impact in the hip hop community and it has been featured in many charts as being the number one hip hop defining song since it became a stepping stone for loads of great old skool hip hop songs.
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