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Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

(HIP HOP.) Barboza, Anthony. Grandmaster Flash. 1984

New York, 1984

Gelatin silver print. 10 x 10 in. on 11 x 14 in. sheet. Light wear. Signed and inscribed by the photographer: “Grandmaster Flash 1984 A. Barboza.”

This portrait captures Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five at the height of their fame. The pioneering group broke through to mainstream success with the 1982 single “The Message,” which made the top 100 pop charts. “’The Message’ was [the first record] to prove that rap could become the inner city’s voice, as well as its choice” (Rolling Stone).

In 2007 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip hop group to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012 Rolling Stone declared “The Message” (with the refrain “Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge, I’m tryin’ not to lose my head …”) the number one hip hop song of all time.

Anthony Barboza (b. 1944) is most famous for photographs of jazz musicians in the 1970s and 1980s. His work has been exhibited in countless solo and group shows and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Cornell University, the Brooklyn Museum, the Schomburg Center – NYPL, and the National Portrait Gallery, among others. “When I do a portrait, I’m doing a photograph of how that person feels to me; how I feel about the person, not how they look. I find that in order for the portraits to work, they have to make a mental connection as well as an emotional one. When they do that, I know I have it” (Anthony Barboza).