[13] Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, ‘The Message’

Let’s say hip hop began when Kool Herc took a couple of copies of the Incredible Bongo Band’s ‘Apache’ and played the same bit of breakbeat over and over again. That was around 1973 or something. So how come people still refer to ‘The Message’ as “early” hip hop? I reckon it’s because you’re NUFFINK until you’re on Top Of The Pops. And now TOTP is no longer, nothing will be anything ever again. Bands will be stuck on myspace until they’re yesterday’s news, mum and dad won’t be able to say “Is that a boy or a girl? You can’t even understand what they’re saying,” and Michael Parkinson will shape the mainstream, unchallenged. Is that what you want? IS THIS WHAT MADE BRITAIN GREAT?

The impending apocalypse hasn’t registered with Junior, who stares wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the immaculate black vinyl falling onto the turntable. She knows the medium of great tunes, and grips the coffee table, ready to dance. Seven minutes, this, and the proto-critic loves every second.

It was my first real brush with hip hop – ‘Wham! Rap’ was still a few months away – and I was impressed. Their clothes were madder than Kevin Rowland’s and we could all chant along at boarding school without indulging in girlie singing. That was important.