There would be no Men in Black II if there wasn’t first an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. No George W. without a Richard M. No retro Air Jordans without the classic Converse All-Stars.

A similar case can be made in hip hop. Before Stretch Armstrong, Funkmaster Flex and Kay Slay, there had to be a Grandmasteróa Grandmaster Flash, the original DJ. Flash invented and/or perfected cutting, back-spinning, phasing and nearly every other technique ever used by a club spinner. Since that carefree 80’s heyday, Flash has remained busy, serving as the in-house DJ on the now-defunct “Chris Rock Show,” being an ambassador for true hip hop and collecting and mixing tracks for any of his numerous compilations.

Essential Mix: Classic Edition, the rap legend’s latest musical collection, doesn’t blend the songs you might expect; instead of choice cuts from Kurtis Blow or the Sugarhill Gang, he intertwines 15 synth-heavy R&B tunes, some of them nearly 20 years old. Timeless selections from Blondie (“Rapture“), Rockers Revenge (“Walking On Sunshine“), Indeep (“Last Night A DJ Saved My Life“) and Frankie Beverly & Maze (“Before I Let Go“) are grafted to perfection, conjuring memories of Kangols, rent parties and skin-tight jeans and reassuring Flash’s place in the annals of mixology.