This Day in Hip Hop and Rap History
Host: Chuck D w/ Duke Eatmon & Ron Maskell
May 15th, 2012
May 15th – Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five was born Melvin Glover in The Bronx, New York, on this day in 1961.
Melle Mel, who would be the first rapper ever to call himself “MC” (for Master Of Ceremony), first teamed up with future Furious Five members Eddie Morris a.k.a. Scorpio, Guy Todd Williams a.k.a. Rahiem, the late Keith Wiggins a.k.a. Cowboy and Mel’s brother Nathaniel Glover a.k.a. Kid Creole.
They would form a group called The Younger Generation who would release a 1979 single called “We Rap More Mellow” on Brass Records.
Later that year The Furious Five hooked up with the pioneering and legendary Grandmaster Flash and released “Super Rappin’” on Enjoy Records. The song would become an instant cult-classic.
The group would then sign with Sugar Hill Records and release a slew of more cult classic hits like “Freedom”, “The Birthday Party”, “Showdown”, “It’s Nasty (Genius Of Love)”, “Scorpio” and “The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel.”
In 1982, Melle Mel with his clear, dramatic and precise vocals teamed up with musician Duke Bootee on a record billed as a Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five song and released the historical platinum single “The Message.” The song would usher in the next phase, at that time, of hip-hop.
After contractual problems caused the group to split up into cliques, members including Flash left Sugar Hill.
Melle Mel stayed on with the imprint and regrouped as Grandmaster Melle Mel And The Furious Five, with original members Rahiem and Kid Creole staying on board while newcomers Tommy Gunn, King Lou, Kami-Kaze and DJ E.Z. Mike were added to the fold.
The group released a Self-Entitled debut album in 1984, which contained the classic smash hit single and anti-drug anthem “White Lines (Don’t Do It).”
In 1985, Grandmaster Melle Mel And The Furious Five released another album called “Stepping Off.” The album spawned a hit song called “Step Off” which also became another instant classic.
In 1988, Flash and Mel and The Furious Five reunited for an album called “On The Strength.”
Melle Mel would go on to release six more albums since, either with The Furious Five, Die Hard or collaborative efforts with Scorpio and Lady Gaga.
Over the years Melle Mel has also collaborated with the likes of Quincy Jones, Big Daddy Kane, Afrika Bambaataa, Keith Leblanc, Van Silk, Cher, Nikkole and Chaka Khan. He became the first hip-hop artist to win a Grammy Award in 1985 for his rap contributions to Chaka Khan’s smash hit “I Feel For You”, which is a Prince cover.
Melle Mel also appeared on The Dr. King tribute all-star single “King Day” as well as on “Sun City” as a part of Artists United Against Apartheid.
Melle Mel has also done extensive television as well as a memorable performance appearance in the 1984 Orion Pictures film “Beat Street.”
Melle Mel has also dabbled in professional wrestling.
In 2007, Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five became the first hip-hop group to be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, thus again making Melle Mel and the gang a part of history.
Melle Mel continues to perform around the world and is one of the most important as well the first ever politically and socially conscious rapper.