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Music / The Message

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The Message is the 1982 debut studio album by the American hip hop band Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, best known for the title track which became an international hit song. Generally considered to be a Cult Classic in hiphop history in 2002 it became the first rap song to be listed in the National Recording Registry.


Side One

  1. "She's Fresh" (2:57)
  2. "It's Nasty" (4:19)
  3. "Scorpio" (4:55)

Side Two

  1. "It's A Shame (Mt. Airy Groove) (4:57)
  2. "Dreamin'" (5:47)
  3. "You Are" (4:51)
  4. "The Message" (7:12)

The 1982 UK LP added "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" (7:06) as bonus track. The 2010 expanded edition adds "Message II (Survival)" (6:46), "New York, New York" (7:19), "The Adventures of Grandmaster Himself" (5:45) and an instrumental version of "The Message" (7:11).

Don't push these tropes, 'cause they're close to the edge. They're trying not to lose their heads.

  • Alliterative Name: "It's Nasty"
    The Duke of Dare.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: "The Message" about the pressures of living in the inner city.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: From "The Message":
    My son said, Daddy, I don't wanna go to school
    Cause the teacher's a jerk, he must think I'm a fool
    And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it'd be cheaper
    If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
    Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
    Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
    Cause it's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny
    You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
  • Conscious Hip Hop: "The Message" was an early hugely influential political and conscious hip hop track, decrying the poverty, violence, and dead-end lives of the black youth of the time.
  • Crapsack World: "The Message" and "It's A Shame" both are an outcry about the state of the world is in, especially for the black man.
  • Deconstruction: Of the ghetto life in "The Message", which tells a story about a hypothetical kid who drops out of school and becomes a criminal because of the way people idolize them. He unsuccessfully attempts an armed robbery, gets arrested, and is sentenced to several years in prison where he is raped and ultimately hangs himself.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge" in "The Message".
  • Downer Ending: Each tale told in "The Message" ends bad or without much hope for the future.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: "Scorpio".
  • Epic Rocking: "The Message" and "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel" are longer than five minutes.
  • Face on the Cover: A group shot of the band.
  • Genre-Busting: "Dreamin'" and "You Are" sound more like romantic soul ballads than hiphop. "Scorpio" sounds more like the popular dance electronica of the 80s than hip-hop.
  • Genre Popularizer: This album and especially the title track help launch Political Rap into public popularity.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: "It's Nasty" has a line in Italian:
    Ayy, tu eta por llamaseta mi amor, Linda
  • Instrumental Hiphop: "The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel" has vocals, but they are only samples, no new lyrics.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "The Message" has a very upbeat tune and lyrics like this:
    It was plain to see that your life was lost
    You was cold and your body swung back and forth
    But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
    Of how you lived so fast and died so young
    • The song itself talks about how horrendous New York and the ghetto is.
  • Momma's Boy:
    Everybody raise your arms if you love your mother.
  • One-Woman Song: "That girl is fresh!" in "She's Fresh".
  • Non-Appearing Title: Nowhere in "The Message" is the word "message" actually used.
  • Pacifism: "It's A Shame" addresses violence and warfare and makes a plea for peace.
  • Police Brutality: The band is arrested by the police near the end of "The Message" for the crime of looking like gang members and hanging around a street corner.
  • Political Rap: "The Message" and "It's A Shame" talk about ghetto poverty and crime.
  • Prison Rape: From ''"The Message".
    Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
    Got sent up for an eight-year bid
    Now your manhood is took and you're a Maytag
    Spend the next two years as an undercover fag
    Bein' used and abused to serve like hell
  • Product Placement: "It's Nasty"
    As DJ Flash, cuts so mean
    That he wanna know your favorite jean
    Is it Jordache? (NO!) Gloria Vanderbilt? (NO!)
    Maybe it's Sassoon? (NO!) How about Sergio? (I DON'T CARE!)
    Could it be Calvin Klein? (NO!) Then what is it? (?????)
  • Sampling
    • "She's Fresh" contains samples from "It's Just Begun" by The Jimmy Castor Bunch and "Lovomaniacs (Sex)" by Bobbie Knight.
    • "It's Nasty" contains samples from "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club.
    • "It's a Shame" contains samples from "Mt. Airy Groove" by Pieces Of A Dream.
    • "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" contains samples from "Good Times" by Chic, "Apache" by The Incredible Bongo Band, "Rapture" by Blondie, "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, "8th Wonder" by The Sugarhill Gang, "Monster Jam" by Sequence, "Glow of Love" by Change and "Life Story" by The Hellers.
    • "The official adventures of..." from "The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel" would be sampled in itself countless times, among which during "PSK- What The Hell Does That Mean?" by Schoolly D from his album Schoolly D (1985). The line itself comes from a Flash Gordon spoken word recording.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Dreamin'" opens with a dedication to Stevie Wonder, "'cause he's the greatest!"
    • In "You Are" God and Our Lord Jesus Christ are mentioned.
    • From "The Message"'':
      • "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".
      • Now you're unemployed/ all non-void/ walking 'round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd.
    • The line "there ain't a damn thing funny" in "Johnny Ryall" from The Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique (1989) is a shout-out to "The Message".
    • "It's Nasty" was sampled by Public Enemy during "Leave This Off Your Fuckin' Charts" from Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
  • Singer Namedrop: Done several times, to all the band members.
  • Spoken Word: "It's A Shame".
    Yo Flash. This time cut it mellow!
  • Stock Sound Effects: The police car arriving, siren and all, near the end of "The Message".
  • Title Track: "The Message", though these words don't appear in the actual lyrics.
  • You Watch Too Much X:
    My brothers doin' 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.