The legend Grandmaster Flash is a hip-hop DJ pioneer and star of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. Flash is the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, paving the way for hip-hop icons. Grandmaster Flash will be in residence at the University of Buffalo this fall as he is to direct the next Working Artists Lab this semester of hip-hop-inspired programming presented by the university’s Arts Collaboratory.
“The residency at UB gives me a chance to tell hip-hop’s whole story. The sights. The sounds. The places and the moments,” Grandmaster Flash told the Niagra Gazette. “It’s important that we get this history right. For the next generation to take music and art in new directions, they have to know where that music and art came from, who made it and how.”
Grandmaster Flash will join UB students via video conferencing before his three-day in-person residency, which begins Sept. 30. He will host a private session with the students and local hip-hop legends. Flash will give a hip-hop masterclass on Oct. 1 will follow, as will a session on Oct. 2 where students will share their work with him. A complete and more detailed schedule is available online.
“This is a momentous occasion for UB,” says Bronwyn Keenan, director of UB’s Arts Collaboratory. Over the course of several weeks, students from UB and Buffalo State College, along with Buffalo-area artists, will have an opportunity to engage with one of the most important artists and innovators of our time – and he is making an ongoing commitment to UB.”
Flash will also show his film “Hip-Hop: People, Places & Things,” a personally curated firsthand history of the genre’s inspirations, origins and innovations, to students on Sept. 30.
“This film is essential viewing for those who want to understand and grasp the origins of hip-hop,” says Kennan, who met Flash several years ago at an event she organized while working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “It’s a celebration of growth that takes us back to the music’s beginnings exploring the four elements that came together in the 70s: MCs, DJs, graffiti and, dance.”
“I hope to inspire students to get out there. I want them to make it happen. Do something different,” says Flash. “I didn’t handle vinyl by the edges. I put my fingertips on the record’s surface. That was different, and a lot of people didn’t like the way I was treating the records. I may not have been the first DJ, but I was the first DJ that showed how a turntable could be an instrument.