XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
March 12, 2007: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame., on this day in 2007.
In hip-hop, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are the pioneers of protest rap and one of the most influential groups ever assembled. The Bronx, N.Y.-based troupe—consisting of Grandmaster Flash (real name Joseph Saddler), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Kid Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Mr. Ness aka Scorpio (Eddie Morris), Raheim (Guy Williams) and the late Cowboy (Keith Wiggins)—are responsible for bringing social commentary into rap with their thought-provoking 1982 song “The Message,” amid a time when party music was the norm in the genre. Their non-rapping member, Grandmaster Flash, is credited with being the creator of turntable tricks associated with hip-hop deejaying.
At the induction ceremony, which took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Jay-Z delivered the induction speech, honoring the group’s importance musically and culturally to hip-hop. Afterward, the founding members gave heartfelt speeches and followed it with a spirited performance of “The Message.”
“The fact that we’re in the Hall of Fame speaks volumes,” Melle Mel told the Associated Press in March 2007. “People try to separate hip-hop music like it stands alone, but it really doesn’t. We’re in with all the great groups in the history of music. It further legitimizes hip-hop.”
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five‘s induction into the Rock Hall opened the door for other rappers to be saluted. Since then, 10 rap acts have been ushered into the Hall of Fame. They are Run-DMC (2009), Beastie Boys (2012), Public Enemy (2013), N.W.A (2016), Tupac Shakur (2017), The Notorious B.I.G. (2020), Jay-Z (2021), LL Cool J (2021) and Eminem (2022).
Four years before their induction, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five‘s song “The Message” was archived in the U.S. Library of Congress in January 2003.