Watch Grandmaster Flash’s Lecture on the Development of Hip-Hop DJing

Grandmaster Flash
Grandmaster Flash (credit:

DJ and hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash recently gave a lecture at New York’s Hot 97 on the development of hip-hop DJing. The presentation came just one week after the debut of The Get Down, a new Netflix series that explores the rise of hip-hop in the late ’70s.

The hour-long lecture focused on Flash’s technical contributions to hip-hop DJing, including the “peek-a-boo” system, which combined a microphone mixer, preamps, and a studio mixer. As Scratch DJ Academy’s book On the Record states: “this new setup enabled [Grandmaster Flash] to preview the combined sound of two records through headphones before it went through the speakers.”

Flash also explained and demonstrated his “quick mix theory,” which was made possible by the peek-a-boo system. Quick mixing enabled Flash to extend the drum break of a song indefinitely so that crowd could keep dancing to it. The technique was not only a major advancement in hip-hop DJing but led to the development of rap music.

While the innovations that Flash discussed were introduced over 30 years ago, they are still considered standard DJing techniques today.

Watch the full video below.

Topics discussed:

– Some of the most famous samples in hip-hop history (7:00)
– Discovering that the conical stylus is the best type of needle for DJing (13:10)
– Inventing the slipmat (15:10)
– Discovering that the Technics SL-23 was the best turntable at the time for DJing (17:50)
– Inventing the “peek-a-boo” system (21:00)
– His fascination for electronics as a child (22:50)
– Inventing the “clock theory” and “quick mix theory” (28:00)
– Embracing the latest DJ technology (34:00)
– Mentoring Grand Wizzard Theodore, who is credited as the inventor of scratching (36:50)
– Demonstrating his “quick mix theory” and finger drumming with the “beatbox” (42:00)
– The story behind the beatbox (52:00)

Related: Hot 97 Honors Grandmaster Flash