Rap legend Duke Bootee has died.
The pioneer is best known as the co-writer of “The Message,” a song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He was 69.
Bootee, nee Edward Fletcher, died of heart failure his home in Savannah, Georgia, according to reports.
Duke Bootee conceptualized “The Message” in a demo called “The Jungle,” which was eventually re-worked with rapper Melle Mel. Mel added lyrics that he wrote at the behest of Sugar Hill Records mastermind Sylvia Robinson. Robinson brought together Duke Bootee, who worked in the Sugar Hill Records house band, was paired with Melle Mel, largely considered the best rapper of that era.
Grandmaster Flash and the crew were not enthused about recording “The Message,” because it did not have a danceable vibe like contemporary song such as “Rapper’s Delight.’ The song dropped on July 1, 1982 and single-handedly jump-started social consciousness in Hip-Hop.
Duke Bootee, a New Jersey native, played with Doug Wimbish, Skip Alexander, and Jiggs Chase for Sugar Hill Records.
“The Message” was among the first 50 songs entered into the National Recording Registry in 2003, an act of Congress. This year, The Grammys will honor Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and others like Salt-N-Pepa.