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Common, Lupe Fiasco, LL Cool J Perform Tribute to Grandmaster Flash at Grammy Nominations Concert

Common Lupe Fiasco LL Cool J
Rick Diamond / Kevin Winter / Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Hip-hop superstars Common, LL Cool J and Lupe Fiasco graced the stage at the Grammy Nominations concert Wednesday night (Nov. 30) for a special tribute of ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

The 1982 socially-conscious song has been inducted into the 2011 Grammy Hall of Fame. Joining them were the song’s originators Melle Mel and Scorpio, and on the turntables was legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash.

An energetic Common kicked off the tribute rapping the first verses of the song. “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,” he raps. The way the Chicago emcee was bouncing onstage you would have thought “The Message” was a club anthem. Nevertheless, Com came through with a great performance.

Melle Mel and Scorpio followed behind Com with the second verse from the song. Then fellow rapper Lupe Fiasco came out to recite Duke Bootee’s lyrics. “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,” he rapped.

Finally, LL Cool J closed out the song reciting Melle Mel’s thought-provoking lyrics. “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,” he rapped along with the audience.

Miami rapper Rick Ross was mysteriously absent from ‘The Message’ tribute. It would have been cool to hear Rozay utter his guttural grunt (R-Ruh!) along with Melle Mel’s famous grunt. Also, quick cuts to Nicki Minaj in the crowd dancing to the song indicated how exciting the performance was at the Staples Center.

Although ‘The Message’ is 30 years old, the urgency of the lyrics still remains relevant in 2011. Common, Uncle L and Lupe did a phenomenal job of bringing the old school back to the new school with an important message behind it.

Watch the Grammy Tribute to ‘The Message’

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