Hip-Hop Pioneer Grandmaster Flash reflected on his humble beginnings, crediting the Bronx for making him who is while addressing the class of 2023 at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, Thursday (Jun. 1) as he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music.
The legendary turntablist also served as the 2023 Spring Commencement Ceremony speaker alongside former New York State Rep. José Rivera, who was also awarded an honorary degree. In his moving speech, Grandmaster Flash addressed the history of Hip-Hop as the genre celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
He also explained his innovative “quick mix theory,” a technique he developed to create an endless loop between two records playing the same sample using different turntables.
“We from the Bronx — we are starters, we are finishers, we are very, very important,” he stated. “And I must tell you, young people, as you go out into the world, you will probably do what I did… [and] [make] mistakes. I cannot tell you how many mistakes I made before the technique finally came into fruition. I say to young people, as you leave here, you will scrape your knees, [that’s] guaranteed, but we Bronx people, we go hard.”
The iconic DJ added: “With today’s technology — computers, studios, engineers, social media, [and the] internet — you guys got a headstart on being the next geniuses. You have an incredible head start.”
Grandmaster Flash Tells Graduates: “You Are The Next Geniuses”
He continued, “I can remember while touring, trying to tell the world, ‘the Bronx matters,’” he said. “This thing came from the Bronx. This thing is called Hip Hop. So I stand in front of you guys and women, [and say] you are the next geniuses. It’s up to you guys now. You are the future.”
While Grandmaster Flash has a dazzling array of accolades, including a lifetime achievement Grammy and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he noted this honor was extra special. He also received another honorary doctorate from Buffalo State College last May but said this degree was the “most important” to him because he received it in his hometown. Watch his moving speech here.