Grandmaster Flash and the surviving members of the Furious Five are still at odds more than three decades after they helped put hip hop on the map. Specifically, Melle Mel says Flash is stealing the spotlight and snatching up tour dates under the group's name.
The South Bronx-based crew of Flash, Mel, The Kidd Creole, Raheim, Scorpio and the late Robert “Keith Cowboy” Williams, disbanded in the late ‘80s for solo careers, but Mel claims his former group member is still benefiting from their collective success. “It’s just plain economics,” he told All Hip Hop. “When we started Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, we all basically came up together.”
Flash’s branding expertise has the remaining Furious Five at a disadvantage, according to Mel. “Flash was the first one to understand what branding was so he took that part and he set us all out,” he accused. “No matter what happens, if you say ‘Grandmaster Flash,’ you think of ‘Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five,’ but you never get to the ‘Furious Five’ part. With that, he does like 200 shows a year and me and Scorp are lucky to do like nine shows. But, we all based on the same group and the same music that Flash really never had a part in the music.”
He and the other members are now on a “public campaign” to make it clear that Flash is no longer affiliated with the group and the next step is legal action.
”We feel we should have the right to use the name ‘Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five,’ because that's the only way we can get work," he explained. "Nobody’s gonna book 'The Furious Fives.' Nobody’s gonna book 'Grandmaster’s Furious Five.' Nobody’s gonna book 'Grandmaster Melle Mel and The Furious Five.' They are either gonna book 'Grandmaster Flash' or 'Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.' Even if you take away the DJ, you still should be able to work under the name of the group.
(Photos from Left: Tim Whitby/Getty Images, Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)