Grandmaster Flash is an iconic hip hop figure. He played an integral part in the creation of what we now call hip hop. However, aside from the extended break, he is also credited with the invention of the slipmat. Find out why below.
Grandmaster Flash (real name Joseph Saddler) emerged from the South Bronx in the mid-1970s. DJing funk and soul at block parties around the Bronx, Saddler realised that the drum break was the most popular part of the track and wanted to find a way to make what usually only lasted for eight bars last longer.
Searching for a way, he stumbled across a technique that would become the basis for hip hop. While figuring out how to create an extended break, Grandmaster Flash figured out that if he had two copies of the same track and switched from the left deck to the right deck just in time for the start of the break, he could create a loop.
With a love for mathematics, a young Grandmaster Flash figured out that six full counterclockwise revolutions of the vinyl would take it back by four bars, so by doubling that and performing 12 revolutions, he could take a record back to the start of the break. This created an extended break.
However, when he first tried to turn the vinyl on the rubber placemat that came with the turntable, he realised that the friction caused by the rubber was not allowing him to rotate the vinyl. So he had to find out how he could rotate the vinyl on a new surface.
Speaking to radio station HOT97, the DJ explained, “my mother was a seamstress, god bless her, so I knew about polyester, silk, rayon ’cause my mom made all our clothes. I went to the material store, and I started feeling all these different materials, and when I got to the felt, I touched it, and I put it on my fingertips, but the problem with felt was if you have a piece of it, it’s very limp.”
He continued, “So what I did was I ran home, I brought a copy of an album, and I bought two pieces of felt, and when my mother wasn’t looking, I spray starched the felt until it became stiff. I called it a wafer…and then my mom, when we got good grades, she would bake cookies, and there was that wax paper she used to use, I cut out two pieces of that, and maybe 35 years later, they called it ‘slipmat’”
Grandmaster Flash is undoubtedly a legend and had such a massive impact on hip hop culture he is truly a hero to some you can watch him explain to the hosts of HOT97 how he created the slipmat in the video below.