Label: Sugar Hill
1.Shes Fresh 4:56
2.Its Nasty 4:25
4.Its A Shame (Mt.Airy Groove) 4:58
6.You Are 4:49
7.The Message 7:13
“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five is a bonafide classic and should be considered a valuable collectors item. The reasons are many, but let’s start with the obvious. This is the first, and only studio album recorded with the original crew of Melle Mel, Kid Creole, Mr. Ness aka Scorpio, Rahiem, Keith Cowboy and Grandmaster Flash. Add to that, the fact that this album was released in 1982, a time when rap acts were only dropping 12-inch singles. In fact, the only other rap albums to speak of around this general period were by the Sugarhill Gang, The Treacherous Three and Kurtis Blow, which makes this a rarity indeed. Finally, there is the album’s title track, which was not only the group’s most successful song, but was also one of the most significant songs of it’s era…rap or otherwise.
There are more things to consider about this album, not the least of which is the discovery of the singing abilities of the group…particularly Rahiem. With no less than four tracks that have melodies being handled by the group, the album demonstrated the F5’s versatility on the mic. Rahiem really get his shine on the cuts “Dreamin'”, a cheesy (but no doubt, sincere) tribute to Stevie Wonder, and the stirring gospel flavored, “You Are”. Rahiem could really sing, which unfortunately has not always been the case with other rappers trying to hold down double duty on the mic. There are also a couple of more straight forward rap gems…. “It’s Nasty” featured the crew rockin’ “suggestive” (boy have times changed) rhymes over Tom Tom Club’s monster groove, “Genius Of Love” and was one of GMF&F5’s more popular songs. But just as tight was the lesser known, “It’s A Shame”, which borrowed both from the R&B classic of the same name and the funky, “Mt. Airy Groove” by jazz vets Pieces Of A Dream. It’s a song in the same socially conscious vein as “The Message”, however the whole group got in on the act this time. The song structure is tight and the delivery is executed with that classic Furious 5 trade-off style. More than any other song on the album, “Shame” really showcases the full scope of the group’s talents…in addition to the aforementioned skills of Rahiem and the vocal performance turned in by the crew, this marks one of the few times (especially during the Sugarhill era) that we hear Flash actually scratching.
The remaining two tracks were non-traditional rap fare… “Scorpio”, the instrumental, which later became the track used for a sequel to “The Message” called “Survival”; and the album’s lead off track, “She’s Fresh” which was uncharacteristically up tempo and again, had the group singing as well as rapping. It is the inclusion of these two songs that leads to the burning question…how come “Freedom” and “Birthday Party” were not included on this album??? Surely these two songs, even if they were a year old at that point, would have been a good fit on this album.
In retrospect, at first glance this album may appear to be lacking a significant chunk of their most meaningful work for Sugarhill, but if you listen closer, you can hear the sound of potential…largely unrealized potential. This incarnation of the group had all the right tools, but just as the group was discovering the different directions it was capable of going in, things started falling apart. Melle Mel dominated most of the songs after this album; the exceptions being “Flash To The Beat” and “Internationally Known”, both of which relied more heavily on Rahiem…the sad truth is the Furious 5 was never the same after this album. Had they stayed together and continued to develop their art collectively, there’s no telling how much greater they could’ve become. We will never know the answer to that question, but this album does offer a glimpse of what could’ve been…as well as what would eventually do them in… Submitted by Anonymous