Born Melvin Glover, Grandmaster Melle Mel is more than one of the pioneers of hip-hop – he is heralded, by those that know, as one of the finest lyricists Hip-Hop has ever seen. While we at AllHipHop deem him the original G.O.A.T., the notion is certainly arguable with greats before and after him. But. Melle Mel was certainly one of the first true emcees that graced the small screen, the big screen and hammered the upper and underground.
Under the legendary Grandmaster Flash banner, Melle Mel joined Keith (Cowboy) Wiggins, his older brother Nathaniel (Kidd Creole) Glover and eventually Guy (Rahiem) Williams and Eddie (Mr. Ness/Scorpio) Morris to construct the Furious Five. The group hit with an immeasurable impact when they recorded, “The Message,” which was released in 1982. The song peaked at #4 on the charts and it forever changed the face of rap. While the masses had grown accustomed to the classic pop of Sugar Hill, the Furious Five represented the harsh realities of life in “The Message,” precluding social analysts like BDP, Public Enemy and NWA for several years.
With the Furious Five being honored at VH1s Annual Hip-Hop Extravaganza on September 26, AllHipHop peers back at the life and times of the iconic group from Melle Mel’s unique, brash and honest perspective.
AllHipHop.com: I personally consider you the original G.O.A.T [Greatest of All Time] you were the dominant rapper in Hip-Hop at one point and very visible unlike most before you.
MM: Black people have short-term memory. That’s just us being ignorant, trendy and going with the fad. We are a part of history. If I was a white dude and I was the first, great rapper, I would have Rolling Stones status. Overseas, its totally different. Them kids know more about the whole spectrum of rap than kids here and its supposed to be our culture. The average Black kid don’t know who we are. Now 50 Cent is the guy, but when the next guy comes out that’s more grimy than 50 Cent, he ain’t gonna be the guy no more.
White people are gonna do what the ni**as do and they gonna jump on that. But the ni**gas aint holding up their end in a cultural perspective. This is our history. How can a group like Public Enemy be passé, but a group like NWA move forward?
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the overall state of the game now?
MM: All people know about rap is “Oh yeah, that’s dope. That’s street. Them ni**as is street, they hard!” Hip-hop ain’t about that. Hip-hop ain’t got nothing to do with that. [Street] guys like that never said rhymes. They never even wanted to say rhymes. Its been hijacked by these cats. All this violence and sh*t – don’t put me with that. That’s not me. I’m going this way. Y’all go that way. I’m not hating, but I’m going to get mine.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your take on battle rapping?
MM: You see these rap battles and they are talking about what the other guy is wearing. Its like real stupid sh*t. You don’t even have to have any talent to do that. “You look like you got on your lil’ brother’s shirt.” We just did what we had to do and if it was better than the other guy, we won. To me, today’s battles are corny. Your whole focus is what the other guy does. That’s what kids are doing today.
AllHipHop: So what are your goals and what the hell do you have to prove?
MM: I know Russell [Simmons]. I know Andre Harrell. I’ve met every dude in the game and I’m better than most. I can rhyme with anybody at anytime. If they have a top 20, I’m in there and I haven’t had a record out in 10 years. I’m an entertainer. I’m a star. [Other rappers] are dope dealers, pimps and the broads, they are hoes.
AllHipHop: Clothing-wise you dudes had a whole different style. Some say it’s the pre-Run DMC era with some other influences like punk rock in there.
MM: It was simple. We came from the ghetto and just some ni**a-sh*t. When we were hot, we tried to be star and add an era of entertainment to what we do. We weren’t trying to go on stage and look like our audience. We was going to be something that was more dominant to our audience. Even when we stepped on stage, we wanted the audience to know that they can never be us. We are there to entertain them. That Run DMC era was guys from the street trying to dress like guys from the street. That was their connection to the crowd. These guys wanted to have the same car as the dope dealer got, go the dope dealer wear. Ours was totally different. I wanted to be on one side of the bar coked up and Billy Idol [rock star] was on the other side high on dope.
AllHipHop: You mentioned drugs and getting high. Was “White Lines” glamorizing getting high?
MM: I just made a song about what my perception of cocaine was. It wasn’t something to make you get high. It wasn’t to make you stop getting high. We added [choruses of] “Don’t Do It” in the song because nobody had made a rap record about cocaine at that time. [Still], a lot of record stations didn’t playing it because it was about cocaine.
AllHipHop: Was coke something you guys indulged in?
MM: Yeah, everybody did. It was the think to do. That was before crack came out. Cocaine was like the high-profile drug. Good cocaine was like $100 a gram. All the pretty girls and the entertainers liked cocaine. It wasn’t like its seen now.
AllHipHop: Did you ever get addicted?
MM: Yeah, you know – I didn’t get hooked on coke all that much. But when, crack came out, I did crack. I was a crack head at one time. A couple of years – a lot of people got caught out there. It wasn’t me. I didn’t have to go to rehab. After a couple years and I’m not looking as good as I used to and I aint writing. I left it alone.
AllHipHop.com: I heard you were working as a male stripper [for females] for a while.
MM: You gotta do what you gotta do.
AllHipHop.com: I also heard you have a vast porno collection.
MM: [Laughs] I’m definitely Mr. Porno. That was from back in the day. I been collecting [movies and now DVD’s] since I was about 17. Its cool and it’s a part of life. People do have sex and I like to see all that s**t. I’m excited to meet [the female porn star] the way others wanna see Denzel Washington.
AllHipHop.com: I hear you are a workout fanatic.
MM: I just love training. The girls love that. Ni***s like a broad with a nice body and the same with them. Young girls – don’t look at me, girl!