GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Grandmaster Flash turned Stockton University’s Performing Arts Center into the funkiest place in South Jersey on Friday as he brought his “Hip Hop, People, Places & Things” visual show to the school’s main campus.
This was no dry academic lecture, as Flash spent most of his time playing a live DJ set that transformed the Performing Arts Center into a hip-hop club or an unforgettable house party.
As with any vintage hip-hop show, Flash encouraged everyone to wave their hands in the air, clap along and stand up inside the seated venue and repeatedly asked whether the audience was still with him and whether they were having a good time.
Flash’s appearance attracted hip-hop aficionados, local DJs — DJ Able, DJ Fah D and Raymond Tyler were all in the building — and parents who took their children to hear the type of music that was made before they were born.
In the early ‘80s a new sound began to emerge, one which steadily began to seep its way into…
When Flash was a teen, he said, his mother would tell him to leave the house and play outside. As a result, he discovered his talent for scratching records, which was taboo at the time. Flash was responsible for turntablism and scratching being recorded on a record for the first time.
Flash taught his scratching technique to another Bronx, New York, DJ named Grand Wizzard Theodore. From there, it became one of the staple techniques of being a hip-hop DJ.
Flash’s presentation was heavy on hip-hop history and an education for people who don’t know much about the genre before the 1990s. He took the audience back with a video and musical tribute to the place where he and it started, New York City, and played music from all five boroughs.
“In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you have been,” Flash said.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the first hip-hop group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, were among the earliest to record a socially conscious hip-hop song, 1982’s “The Message.”
Flash said when he started DJing, all he had were vinyl records, turntables, a mixer and a sound system. He talked about falling in love with the album cuts that had the best beats and not caring whether the song was a single.
There were no computers, no internet, no Facebook and no Instagram when Flash started extending a record’s instrumental breaks with his fingers, so people could either rap over the music or breakdance.
One of the most notable parts of Flash’s presentation was his tribute to hip-hop artists who have died. Some of faces that flashed on the screen and whose music he played were famous, such as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC, while others were not as well known, such as DJ Scott La Rock of Boogie Down Productions, producer and rapper J Dilla and rapper Craig Mack.
Flash did more extended musical tributes with video footage for artists he considered his friends who have died, including Prodigy, one half of the 1990s Queens, New York, hip-hop duo Mobb Deep; and Guru, one half of the 1990s Brooklyn, New York, hip-hop duo Gang Starr.