You May Know Him As Grandmaster Flash —  But The University Of Buffalo May Call Him 'Professor'
Photo Credit: Courtesy of UB Arts Collaboratory

You May Know Him As Grandmaster Flash — But The University Of Buffalo May Call Him 'Professor'

It’s no secret that Grandmaster Flash is one of Hip-Hop’s greatest pioneers.

He made his introduction in the early 1970s alongside the streets and parks of New York’s South Bronx, mastering DJing, cutting, scratching, and mixing. His momentum and popularity soared when he started his own group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, blending and producing music in an unconventional manner leading them to score various hits. In 2021, he’s paying it forward as the music connoisseur will now be embracing a new venture as an artist in residency at the University of Buffalo.

“The residency at UB gives me a chance to tell Hip-Hop’s whole story. The sights. The sounds. The places and the moments,” DJ Flash said, according to University of Buffalo. “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.”

As a part of his residency, the Hip-Hop trailblazer will help with the cultivation of the university’s upcoming Working Artists Lab designed to model the advancements of music and its role to influence consciousness and propel change. 

“This is a momentous occasion for UB. 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. This is not one-and-done,” Bronwyn Keenan, director of UB’s Arts Collaboratory, said in a statement.

Keenan wasn’t lying when he said that Grandmaster Flash was “one of the most important artists and innovators of our time.” In fact, he and the Furious Five were the first rap act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which can provide fresh insight for students hoping to shift the culture at the SUNY institution. 

The course will begin Sept. 30, virtually through a video conference in order to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. Professor Flash will hold a three-day in-person residency where students can expect to watch his film “Hip-Hop: People, Places & Things.” The film shares the birth of Hip-Hop’s newest innovation and is an ode to previous musical geniuses. On Oct. 1, the musical genius will hold a master class, University of Buffalo reports. On the final day of the course, students will have an opportunity to showcase their portfolios.

“I hope to inspire students to get out there. I want them to make it happen. Do something different,” Flash said. “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.

He continued: “Now I have a chance to work with students and encourage them to do the same. It’s important to me.”

According to the University of Buffalo, “The UB Arts Collaboratory Working Artists Lab with Grandmaster Flash is presented in partnership with the UB departments of Theatre and Dance and Art, IACE International Artistic & Cultural Exchange Program, the departments of Theatre and Africana Studies at SUNY Buffalo State, and FITZ Books.”

Editorial Note: This piece has been edited for clarity since published.

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