Saturday, April 1, 2017

"Beat Street Breakdown - Part 1" by Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five

Song#:  1998
Date:  08/04/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  86
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rap, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five hit big with their rap classic "The Message," issues arose within the group concerning royalties. Lawsuits were filed and in the aftermath the group's main rapper and songwriter, DJ Melle Mel, took over as the new Grandmaster. The group's first success under the new moniker was this contribution they made to the soundtrack of the film Beat Street. It would be a hit at R&B getting to #8. The song would be a very minor blip at Pop for a couple of weeks. The hit would help the soundtrack reach gold level. The group would follow it up with a self-titled album, but it failed to secure any major hits and disappeared after a #43 showing at R&B. They would issue one more LP in 1989, but it disappeared quickly.

ReduxReview:  While this song may not be as memorable as "The Message" or even "White Lines" (see below), it's expertly executed by Melle Mel. It's got a great groove, nice scratch sections, and the call n' response parts are actually what I remember most about it. I think what is missing for me is some kind of hook. It could be a repeated passage or a small chorus or even something instrumental. Even rap songs need something memorable to keep people coming back. I'm just not hearing it here. However, Melle Mel's rap is certainly top notch and he does make you feel like you are listening to an important story.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Prior to being fully credited as Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five, Mel and Sylvia Robinson (head of Sugar Hill Records) wrote a tune titled "White Lines (Don't Do It)." Despite the fact that it was mainly recorded and performed by Melle Mel, the anti-drug song got credited to Grandmaster & Melle Mel. The credit was an attempt to capitalize on the Grandmaster Flash name as it insinuated that he was part of the recording, which he was not. The song was a Dance hit reaching #8, but it didn't do so well at R&B getting to #47. It was also a #7 hit in the UK. An unofficial video for the song was filmed. It was directed by a young college student named Spike Lee and featured up-n-coming actor Laurence Fishburne. Later in 1995, Duran Duran covered the tune for their Thank You album. Their remake featured both Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel. It was issued as a single and it got to #5 on the US Dance chart while hitting #17 in the UK.


No comments:

Post a Comment