GRANDMASTER MELE MEL INTERVIEWkingmelfor.jpg (4787 bytes)kingmelfor.jpg (4787 bytes)kingmelfor.jpg (4787 bytes)


JayQuan : Peace .......thanks for taking the time to talk to me , its an honor ..I think youre the greatest Emcee .

Melle Mel : Thanks....its all good.

JQ : Most cats credit either you , Cowboy (RIP), Hollywood  or Coke La Rock with being the first person that they saw Emcee....who inspired you ?

MM : Kool Herc , Coke La Rock , Timmy Tim and Clark Kent .

JQ : What year did you start Emceeing ?

MM : 1977

JQ : Who are the first members of Furious 5 ?

MM : Cowboy was the first Emcee for Flash .flashmelcreole.jpg (23994 bytes) Then me & my brother ( Creole ) joined . We were called the 3 Emcees.

JQ : How did the record " We Rap More Mellow " come about , and why were you called the Younger Generation ?

MM : Terry Lewis produced it and put it out without our knowledge . We didnt sign contracts or anything.....he just threw the name Younger Generation on it.

JQ : How did the Deal with Bobby Robinson & Enjoy Records come about ?

MM : Bobby owned a Record store in Harlem....he is Spoonie Gees uncle and Spoonie told him about us and the Funky 4 .

JQ : Who wrote your routines ; and did you ever write ryhmes for each other ?

MM : We all wrote routines together . We wrote our own ryhmes ; I did do some writing for Cowboy .

JQ : Did the beef with the Crash Crew (over the Freedom break) get deep ?

MM : Not really...they just used the same break that we did . In fact the label ( Sugarhill ) already had the track and they originally wanted Luvbug Starski to do that record .

JQ : Were there any rivalries or battles between Furious 5 and any crews ?


MM : We battled Breakout & Baron and the Funky 4 and Fantastic 5 . In fact thats how we got Rahiem ...from that battle with Funky 4...he was with them at first when we were the Furious 4.

JQ : I noticed that on Super Rappin in ' 79 you rocked a verse that you later rocked on the Message ; did Slyvia get the idea for the Message from that verse....or was that verse added later ?

MM : The verse was added just fit the song so we put it in.

JQ : Why did the group actually break up into splinter groups ?

MM : Flash wanted to go to court for royalties.....I didnt want to...I felt that it would be long & drawn out ; and im a recording artist , not a lawyer - I said lets make records .  Originally everyone went with Flash , then after White Lines came out Scorp & Cowboy came back with me.

JQ : Did you know the new members of Flashes clique ; and what did you think of them ?

MM : I had seen them before , but I didn't personally know them...they were ok... kinda corny I thought.

JQ : What was your favorite Furious 5 song on the Sugarhill label ?

MM : Freedom

JQ : I noticed that you and Scorp seem closer than any other group that so ?

MM : just came from our days B Boyin together...we just vibed .

JQ : I always felt that Run Dmc was able to take off based on the fact that Furious 5 was in a drought ; and because they rapped over stripped down beats ; like what you did in the parks and clubs . Do you agree ?

MM : Yes...while we were caught up in all that legal stuff a lot of groups moved in . It was the right time for them...they came right in time for Mtv and that crowd....we missed all that .Sugarhill wasn't into doing videos . They were a company from the 60s , and they were still operating like Motown....They were still using the old Linn drum and the Sugarhill band while other labels had Scratching and drum machines in their songs . After our split neither faction was the same . Even after we got back together it wasn't the same.

JQ : Ive heard people say that you lost street credibility after White Lines - do you agree ?

MM : No.....we werent really after street credibility at that point . We were stars...we were doing shows all over .....Peppermint lounge...everywhere. Billy Ocean and everybody was comin to see us play . One thing that Sugarhill did right was that we had a white publicist - we were in all the magazines in the Uk , right up there with the Ramones the Clash & Mick Jagger ....we werent treated any less than them. Whitelines was a dance record...put any of our records on in the clubs and Whitelines gets the most response . All we cared about was love from the Bronx...and as far as the Bronx was concerned they were like " look at them Niggas go."

JQ : How did the Zulu Kings come about ?

MM : That was Afrika Islams thing...just a crew he put together...It was me , Bronx Style Bob , Ice T & Caz .

JQ : You have done work with Bill Laswell , Material & the Last did that come about ?

MM : I don't remember how I met Bill , but he was always into real eccentric stuff so we started working , and it was good to work with the Last Poets ...those cats were doing an early version of rap . I have done stuff with Bootsy & Billy Bass Nelson from Funkadelic .

JQ : How did the opportunity to do Beat Street come about ?

MM : Harry Belafonte came to us...he was looking for rappers and we were hot at the time .

JQ : You have worked with Chaka Khan , Rebbie Jackson & Quincy Jones - how did you hook up with them ?

MM : Reggie Griffin was a producer with Sugarhill Records and he produced " I Feel For You ". He needed an Emcee for it and he came to me . I didnt meet Chaka  until the Grammys - Thats where I met Quincy Jones . He was always experimenting with some eccentric stuff too...I did" Back On The Block " and " Qs Juke Joint " with him . I also wrote a chapter in his book.

JQ : How did the Furious 5 reunite for " On The Strength " ?

MM : Well Flash was already on Elektra ; and the label felt that his records werent doing well . They suggested that we reunite . The record just didnt take off .

JQ : I thought that it was a good album....was it politics that killed it ?

MM : Yes , the material was good but the project was doomed from the start...the manager was trying to manage the group from was a mess.

JQ : What about the Piano was on one of Sylvias label...did you sign with her again ?

MM : It was just somethin we did - we didn't sign ;  that project fell apart too . The group was still pissed at her and they only did like 4 songs....I had to finish the rest myself ; to try to salvage the project .

JQ : Im gonna name some Emcees   ; rate them from 1 - 10 .  10 being the best.

Caz - 10

Rakim - 9

T La Rock - 7

Moe Dee - 10

LL Cool J - 7

Lil Rodney C - 6

Nas - 8

Kid Creole - 10 ( Im probably biased 'cuz he is my brother ; but he is a dime to me )

Rahiem - 10

Scorpio - 8

Cowboy - 10

Run - 7

Chuck D - 8

DLB (Fearless 4)- 7

Busy Bee - 5 (laughs....thats my Nigga , I Love him to death - he just wasnt lyrical )

Jay  Z - 9

Ice Cube - 9.5

Ice T - 8

G.L.O.B.E - 8

Big Daddy Kane - 9

Kool G Rap - 11 (not a typo - eleven)

Mc Shan - 8

KRSOne - 8

Biggie - 10

Tupac - 9

Guru - 8


JQ : feel Kool G Rap too ? !

MM : He is sick....did you hear the Roots Of Evil cd ?

JQ : Yes....I have all his albums....G Rap is the truth . What do you think of the current thug imagery in rap ?

MM : Let me tell you something...thugs and killers dont make records . If you got on the mic back in the days with all that " im a thug"  shit ; the real thug Niggas in the crowd would have fucked you up . None of these Niggas are that hard one is that hard . I remember when the Casanovas would stand in the bathroom of the club and rob everybody that came in the bathroom and dare anybody to call the police. Niggas would be high on angel dust and come in the club with a gun and make the Emcee say their name on the mic . Sometimes you would hear us shoutin out various Niggas on the might have been like who is was somebody that would put a hole in your head if you didnt say their name !! People thought that we were down with the Casanovas....we were scared of the Casanovas !!!

JQ : I laugh at how BET has so called old school wensday, but they show videos by Biggie...young people today dont even know of the Run Dmc era ; not to mention the true school. What are your feelings on that ?

MM : Its a smack in the face to even call it old school . They just throw Run and them in there with us , then they just label it all old school . Even Rakim and Big Daddy Kane ...its not fair to them or us . If its old they just lump it all together ....the original old school is cats likeFurious 5 , Herculords and Bam & the Zulus . Those were the first established groups . After that is Cold Crush , Fantastic 5 , Busy Bee , Funky 4 , Spoonie Gee , Treacherous 3 , Kurtis Blow , Luv Bug Starski , Fearless 4 and a couple other groups .

JQ : On the song " Scorpio " who does the computer voice ?

MM : Me

JQ : Is a reunion of the original remaining Furious 5 and Flash possible ?

MM : Its not a question of whether we could get together or not ..... I just dont think that we could get a deal . The record company people just dont see a market for us . 

JQ : I have always maintained that you were as much a musical prophet as Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder...what made you talk about clones , not being a slave to computers , and all the other things that no one talked about in 1984 ?

MM : Well I wouldnt say that I was deep or anything....I just always wanted to stay two steps ahead of other Emcees .

JQ : Well I would say that you are deep...what is Melle Mel doing today ?

MM : I just did a Lp with Rondo...our group is called Die Hard...the cd is called " On Lock " . I have some more projects coming also.

JQ : Peace....thanks for your time.


  2005 JayQuan Dot Com

As told to JayQuan 2 / 15 / 02    No part may be copied without authors permission

* Special thanks to Rondo & Kurtis Blow *