The Message

Grandmaster Flash

About The Message

"The Message" is a song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It was released as a single by Sugar Hill Records on July 1, 1982 and was later featured on the group's first studio album, The Message. "The Message" was the first prominent hip hop song to provide a social commentary rather than the self-congratulatory boasting or party chants of earlier hip hop. The song's lyrics describe the stress of inner city poverty. "The Message" took rap music from the house parties of its origin to the social platforms later developed by groups like Public Enemy, N. W. A, and KRS-One. Melle Mel said in an interview with NPR: "Our group, like Flash and the Furious Five, we didn't actually want to do "The Message" because we was used to doing party raps and boasting how good we are and all that."The song was written by Duke Bootee and Melle Mel.. The stanza "A Child is Born" was taken from an early Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five track, "Superrappin'" from 1981 on the Enjoy label. 


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It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin' on the stairs, you know they just don't care
I can't take the smell, can't take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn't get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

Standin' on the front stoop hangin' out the window
Watchin' all the cars go by, roarin' as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin' in a bag
Eatin' outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she'll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin' all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so so seditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldn't make it on her own


It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

My brother's doin' bad, stole my mother's TV
Says she watches too much, it's just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can't even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I'm not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can't take the train to the job, there's a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin' on my back
Can't stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I'm goin' insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!


It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

My son said, Daddy, I don't wanna go to school
Cause the teacher's a jerk, he must think I'm a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it'd be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can't walk through the park cause it's crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say "You want some more?"
Livin' on a see-saw


It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin' on you but he's frownin' too
Because only God knows what you'll go through
You'll grow in the ghetto livin' second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You'll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin' big cars, spendin' twenties and tens
And you'll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I'm cool, huh, I'm no fool
But then you wind up droppin' outta high school
Now you're unemployed, all non-void
Walkin' round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you're a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein' used and abused to serve like hell
Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so


It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under

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Grandmaster Flash

Joseph Saddler (born January 1, 1958 in Bridgetown, Barbados), better known as Grandmaster Flash, is an American hip hop musician and DJ—one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing. more »

1 fan

Written by: Clifton Nathaniel Chase, Edward G. Fletcher, Melvin Glover, Sylvia Robinson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

10 facts about this song

Genre and Release
The single "The Message" was released in 1983 by the American hip-hop artists Duke Bootee and Grandmaster Flash. This song belongs to the genre of rapping, which was quite nascent at the time of its release.
Pioneer of Conscious Hip-Hop
"The Message" is known as one of the first prominent hip-hop songs to provide social commentary and is often credited with introducing the sub-genre of conscious hip-hop.
Signature Loop
Musically, "The Message" is notable for its innovative use of a looping disco drum break, which repeats throughout the song.
Songwriting Credits
Despite being billed under the name "Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five", only Duke Bootee (Ed Fletcher) and Melle Mel are credited as the songwriters for "The Message". Additionally, Duke Bootee performs most of the lyrics.
Negative Initial Reaction
It is reported that Grandmaster Flash was initially against the song, as he believed it was not the right direction for the group. He was of the opinion that people wouldn’t want to hear social commentary in their party music.
Acclaim and Influence
"The Message" has been lauded by a plethora of critics and listeners for its powerful socio-political themes. It not only influenced the future of rap and hip-hop but also immensely impacted popular music, in general.
Covers and Samples
Several artists have covered or sampled "The Message", indicating the song's considerable influence in the music industry. Its refrain "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge" is particularly well-known and has been repeatedly sampled.
Rankings and Recognition
In 2002, "The Message" was honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. The song was the only hip-hop song on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (at position 51), and in 2020, the magazine updated its list, moving the song up to the 8th position.
Social Impact
The lyrics of "The Message" depict the struggles and experiences of growing up in the inner city. They thereby gave a voice to a section of society that had been largely ignored by mainstream media up until then.
Inclusion in Movies
The song has been used in many films to signal urban desperation, including "New Jack City", "CB4", and "Dangerous Minds".

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    The Message

    355.2K     9,302

    Top Hot 100 Songs 1982

    Billboard #62


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    The Message