While one generation might know Grandmaster Flash from his deejaying days on The Chris Rock Show on HBO, another might recall hearing that name mentioned last year as a part of the first Hip Hop artists inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Arguably Hip Hop's most groundbreaking deejay - along with godfather Kool Herc, Flash remains the most musically active Hip Hop apostle from the 1970s Bronx, New York genesis.
In 2009, some 20 years after his last studio album, comes The Bridge. Flash asserts that the title of the album represents the bridging of time, cultures, color and music. The Bridge is a collaborative offering of deejay, producer, emcee vets, legends and youngins'.
The man who cuts faster than any known stone to the bone skillfully utilizes his deejay ear as he picks and chooses the right tracks and then picks and chooses the right emcees to flow over the tracks. Not only is Flash behind the ones and two's, but he's the man behind all of the production as well.
"Shine All Day" features Q-Tip [click to read], Jumz and Kel Spencer. The track is well thought-out and obviously inspired by the resume of Q-Tip. Over a jazzy-yet-bouncy track the "Renaissance Man" flows and trips the lyrics fantastic as he proclaims his love and desire for his shorty. Following his verse, emcees Jumz and Kel Spencer complete the love fest as they individually take turns speaking on making their young lady Wifey and Honey being the perfect melody to the others drum and bass.
"We Speak Hip-Hop" is The United Nations on wax. The beat drops and the flows come intensely with a 1992 Das EFX type cadence and feel. Blastmaster KRS-One [click to read] opens the doors and negates the necessity of visas or green cards with an explanatory chorus that more or less proclaims, "We may not be from the same country or speak the same dialect, but we all speak the same language of Hip Hop." Afasi and Filthy from Sweden, Spanish star Kase-O, Maccho from Japan, Abass from Senegal trade verses with Kris Parker in their native tongues.
Other standout joints include, "Bounce Back" featuring the patented and classic Busta Rhymes [click to read] delivery. Over a smooth beat guided by digital beeps that supply the rhythm track, Bussa Bus utilizes his smooth flow, distinct clarity and vocal enunciation. "Can I Take You Higher" highlights veterans Mr. Cheeks, Grandmaster Caz and Tito as they party and bounce their breath control and flow show that they all haven't lost a step. Meanwhile newer cats Lordikim Allah, J-Flo and Almighty Thor introduce themselves and impress on the song, "I Got Sumthin' to Say." Another conceptual effort analyzes what if Hip Hop was never born? Ponder that and then listen as KRS-One checks back in to break it down eloquently on the aptly-titled, "What If?"
This album works on many different levels. Towards the end, it does miss its original mark with its only foray into singing, "Unpredictable" and its all girl gone wild offering, "Those Chix" with its undercurrent beat evoking thoughts of J.J. Fad and "Supersonic." Despite that little dip, one of the most sought-after deejays in the world not only rocks the party, but rocks your mind. Grandmaster Flash might be defined by many as "old school," but once The Bridge is listened to GrandMaster Flash's beats and production should go on to school many.