Dr Dre is a legend and pioneer in hip-hop. Primarily known as a rapper and producer prior to joining NWA, the Death Row icon was a DJ for the Compton World Class Wreckin’ Cru.
Having been part of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru in the early 1980s, the musician has actively participated in hip-hop for four decades. Although the former NWA act has had such an extensive career, there is one New York veteran who inspired him to begin DJing.
At a Black Music Collective ceremony, Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) unveiled that it was the 1981 track, ‘The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels of Steel’ that made him want to become a DJ. During his speech, he detailed how the Bronx artist gave him musical direction.
Speaking about his career path, Young stated, “My musical journey started with me wanting to find something that I can be good at, simply so I can earn enough money to buy a decent pair of shoes. The birth of Hip-Hop completely changed the course of my life. I heard mixing and scratching and couldn’t get enough of that sound. Once I got my hands on the turntables, I knew I found my wings, and I was determined to learn how to fly.”
He continued, “It didn’t stop for me with scratching and mixing. I fell in love with the idea of manipulating sound, taking those different sounds and putting them together like a puzzle to make a song.”
Young, describing the track by Grandmaster Flash, details the youth of Los Angeles hearing the scratching and mixing of records for the first time. The recollection from Young presents the groundbreaking recording as something alien yet futuristic and exciting.
Explaining why it was so different Dr Dre explained, “It was the first time that we heard a record on a record. It was a mash-up of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by Queen, Chic’s ‘Good Times,’ Blondie’s ‘Rapture,’ ‘8th Wonder’ by The Sugar Hill Gang, and ‘The Birthday Party’ by his own group, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5.”
In an interview with The Foundation magazine, Flash (real name Joseph Saddler) explained how the 1981 single came about, disclosing, “Sylvia [Robinson] encouraged the making of the record. I approached her many times about it. I just would drop it in her ear, ‘Sylvia, can I make a cut record?’ After a while, we were coming off tour, and she flew me & Melle Mel in and said let’s do this record. She told me to pick the records that I wanted to use, and we did it.”
Although the track never charted, it is widely considered a seminal release in the development of sampling, megamixes and mashups in hip-hop culture. You can listen to ‘The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels of Steel’ below.