Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” may not have been the origin of conscious-rap in the early ‘80s, but it took the idea, ran away with it, married it, had several children and bought a farm in upstate Idaho with it.

“The Message” was the 7th rap song to ever appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, peaking at #62. It went gold within 11 days. It was also selected by the New York Times as ‘the most powerful pop single of 1982’ and NME named it their #1 track of the year.

In 2017, Rolling Stone named it the best hip-hop record of all time. But perhaps the song’s biggest honor was in 2002 when the US Library Of Congress began archiving recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in its National Recording Registry. “The Message” was included because “of its focus on urban social issues”, and thus shows it is regarded as significant as other recordings also archived that first year – like “Stars and Stripes Forever”, “God Bless America” and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Though it’s credited to Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, “The Message” was primarily written by Ed “Duke Bootee” Fletcher and producer Jiggs Chase, with the only contributing member of GF & TFF being Melle Mel who wrote the final verse. At the suggestion of Sylvia Robinson, the then-head of Sugar Hill Records, both Duke & Mel rapped on the track.

There are many different versions of this song with different numbers of verse. Often, Verse 4 is omitted. This is the original, and longest, version.

It has been sampled and quoted many times, often imitated, but never matched.