Fat Joe, Bill De Blasio And Grandmaster Flash Walk Into A Bar [WAAMN Chapter 2.7]

Or, at least, they offer their thoughts on hip-hop and its origins—along with some crucial lessons on ownership.

This is the weekly installment of my new book, We Are All Musicians Now. To make sure you don’t miss future serializations, subscribe here. Below you’ll find Chapter 2: The Genius of Ownership (Part 7). Enjoy!


“I see a lot of superstars in the house,” says Grandmaster Flash, the legendary DJ who takes the stage after Nas and LL Cool J at the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s groundbreaking ceremony. “47 years ago, I took a vinyl, listened to the entire song—hated everything about the song, except for the drum solo. I came up with a technique, with the duplicate copies of the record, to take that ten second drum solo and extend it seamlessly for ten minutes … this was the early doings of hip-hop.”

Flash never got to own that technique, at least not in a financial sense. His invention wasn’t something patentable, couldn’t be registered as a trademark. Like many of hip-hop’s early practitioners, he had to find different ways of profiting from his intellectual property.

Lately, he’s been getting recognition for his contribution. Flash is an in-demand DJ, spinning at shows around the world (or at least he was in the recent Before Times). He’s also served as a consultant for programs like Baz Luhrmann’s hip-hop epic The Get Down.

“I’ve been given lots of titles,” Flash continues. “The one that scares me the most is ‘legend.’ Let me explain: a lot of times, legends don’t get a chance to see their works in full fruition. I thank almighty God, and I thank all you hip-hoppers, to allow me to see this day.”

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