Back in 1982 when Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released "The Message", if you were a nascent rap dabbler, you had to stand back. Where the fuck did this come from? Rap dabblers didn't really know much of anything that wasn't a hit, or at least a semi-hit. None of the cult-ish deep shit on tiny labels. This was a rap song, with stark social commentary, from the label that put out the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" and the chicken that tasted like wood. "The Message" would end up on top of all sorts of best of year lists, notably Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop critics poll, the list seemingly made for people don't bother to dig around themselves, where it was in the top ten of 75% of the ballots. How do you follow that up?
"White Lines (Don't Do It)" credited to Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel did just that. A tune that warned against the dangers of cocaine, which being the eighties was rampant. The song had Flash's name on it, but he had already split the label over a royalties dispute. Melle Mel, the sole Furious Five member that was actually on the "The Message" (the rest were studio musicians), is really the guy behind "White Lines". Here's where it gets sticky. The backing tracks on "White Lines" were taken from a track the Sugar Hill house band had recorded, a cover of Liquid Liquid's "Cavern". That would set off a court battle between Sugar Hill and Liquid Liquid's label, 99 Records, and by the end of that Sugar Hill was ordered to pay 99 Records $600,000, so they just claimed bankruptcy. After all was said and done, with 99 Records expecting to recoup their court costs in a settlement, they ended up empty handed with no choice other than to shut down their label.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five - The Message mp3 at Hip Hop 4 Life
Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel - White Lines (Don't Do It) mp3 at iinet (?)
Liquid Liquid - Cavern mp3 at Resounder