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Do You Remember Melle Mel? 5 Things to Know About the Robinson Family Friend

Reintroduce yourself to a Robinson family friend and longtime influencer (and critic) of hip hop.

By Kaeli Van Cott
Did Melle Mel Just Call Jay Z a Clown?

It's no secret that the Robinson family is well connected. It's hard not to be when you helped launch hip hop, right? In the latest episode of First Family of Hip Hop, Darnell Robinson plays some of his new music for "Rhondo Robinson, Jr. when "Leland Robinson, Sr. and close family friend, Melle Mel walk into the studio. The conversation quickly turns to the current state of hip hop these days and Melle Mel shares some very strong opinions, like how most music these days is garbage and a lot of artists are just posing. He then has a few choice words for Jay-Z and Eminem. Yikes.

For most hip hop and rap fans, Melle Mel's a household name, but just in case your memory has betrayed you, here are five fast facts about him:

1. He's Best Known For Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five

While signed under Sugarhill Records, this foundational hip hop ensemble set the precendence for rap as we know it. From songs like "White Lines" to "The Message," the group laid down some tracks that are unforgettable. 

2. His Career Has Also Brought Him To The Big Screen

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five brought their talents to the big screen with 1984's Beat Street. Their music was brought to the film, which helped bring the hip hop scene overseas.

3. Macklemore Has Been His Only Modern Rap Collaboration

In a homage to the '80s, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Downtown" brought Melle Mel back into the mainstream rap scene. Although, it seems like Macklemore might be one of the few rappers he would collaborate with, since he's been pretty open about his critique of modern hip hop.

4. He's Been Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Although Melle Mel might have thrown a little shade at Jay-Z, who actually inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was an overall memorable evening, because Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were the first rap group ever inducted.

5. He's Worked With Artists Outside of Hip Hop

Back in 1984, Melle Mel collaborated with Chaka Khan on the song "I Feel For You." But what you might not know is that Melle Mel also provided background vocals on Cher's 1996 hit song "One By One." 

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