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The Bridge - Concept of a Culture (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

The Bridge was released 20 years after Grandmaster Flash's last studio album and just two years after the DJ and his Furious Five became the first hip-hop/rap group inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The album is hardly weighed down by either of these milestones and the man himself acts not as a DJ but a ring leader dividing his time between songwriting, production, programming, and playing the keys. By keeping those legendary hands off the wheels of steel, Flash has already disappointed the golden age hip-hop purist, and with lightweight party numbers like "Swagger" or "Grown & Sexy" on the track list, he seems bound to drive away those expecting proper reverence. While there are some historical references and many of the rhymes are smart, the main way Flash supports the album's title is by injecting the golden age's block party attitude into the modern sound. Q-Tip sounds like he's having a ball on the worry free "Shine All Day" which offers "Roses are red/Starbursts are orange/You're my two scoops/Topped with the almonds" as if it was De La Soul on a first date. With vocoders, congas, and bells, "Tribute to the Breakdancer" conjures fond memories of the wild style days and on "When I Get There" the legendary Big Daddy Kane is as pimp as ever, promising "Up in the bedroom is the final destination/After that we're probably talking spinal restoration." The album's lyrical highlight and anchoring moment lies in "What If" where KRS-One imagines a world without hip-hop is also a world where James Brown and Funkadelic are forgotten. Besides the scratching, what's notably missing is a track as ambitious as "The Message" or "White Lines," plus some of the later numbers just don't hang with the rest of the album thematically, especially the steamy worldbeat cut "Oh Man." Still, the surprisingly slick and never embarrassing Bridge is a success overall and Flash's return is welcome even if it isn't a return to form.

Biography

Born: 01 January 1958 in Barbados

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

DJ Grandmaster Flash and his group the Furious Five were hip-hop's greatest innovators, transcending the genre's party-music origins to explore the full scope of its lyrical and sonic horizons. Flash was born Joseph Saddler in Barbados on January 1, 1958; he began spinning records as teen growing up in the Bronx, performing live at area dances and block parties. By age 19, while attending technical school courses in electronics during the day, he was also spinning on the local disco circuit. Over...
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The Bridge - Concept of a Culture (Bonus Track Version), Grandmaster Flash
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