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Hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash to be in residence at UB this fall

Grandmaster Flash sits in front of a colorful mural.
University at Buffalo
Hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash will be working with University at Buffalo students this fall as part of a residency with the UB Arts Collaboratory.

Grandmaster Flash, one of the creators of hip hop and leader of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, will be in residence at the University at Buffalo this fall. He will direct the next Working Artists Lab as part of a full semester of hip-hop inspired programming presented by UB's Arts Collaboratory.

“The residency at UB gives me a chance to tell hip-hop’s whole story. The sights. The sounds. The places and the moments,” says Grandmaster Flash, whose musical group was the genre’s first act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s important that we get this history right. For the next generation to take music and art in new directions, they have to know where that music and art came from, who made it and how.”

The fall 2021 lab will be the first time Flash has worked directly with university students in his career, which includes a Grammy, Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Urban Music Awards, a BET Hip Hop Award and Sweden’s Polar Prize, which the BBC has called the “Nobel Prize of Music.”

“This is a momentous occasion for UB,” says Bronwyn Keenan, director of UB’s Arts Collaboratory. “Over the course of several weeks, students from UB and Buffalo State College, along with Buffalo-area artists, will have an opportunity to engage with one of the most important artists and innovators of our time - and he is making an ongoing commitment to UB. This is not one-and-done.”

Like other Working Artists Lab participants, Keenan says Grandmaster Flash plans to return annually and continue working with students, engaging with the community, cultivating relationships and watching the growth of the innovative work that he’s starting at UB.

Grandmaster Flash will join students via video conferencing in advance of his three-day in-person residency, which begins Sept. 30 with him hosting a private incubator session with scholars and local hip-hop luminaries.

“I hope to inspire students to get out there. I want them to make it happen. Do something different,” says Flash.