Grandmaster Flash used to switch labels on records so other DJs wouldn’t copy his drum breaks

“I don’t mind letting the secrets out now. But that was part of the fun.”

When you purchase through affiliate links on, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more
Grandmaster Flash playing a DJ set. He's wearing headphones and stands behind a laptop with a "GM" and lightning bolt on it.

Image: Richard Bord / Getty

DJ and producer Grandmaster Flash has shared the secret hack that he used to prevent other DJs from copying his drum breaks.

Flash became known for his Quick Mix Theory technique, where he elongated drum breaks through the use of duplicate copies of vinyl.

In a new interview with Music News, the prestigious DJ (who also invented the slipmat) explains how he used a secret hack to prevent people from copying his work: “The way I would look for a break on a record is I would buy one copy and I would put it up with a light. And the area where it was the most shiniest was where the least band members was playing,” he explains.

“Now, if there wasn’t a turntable in a record shop, I would look at that, I’d go and I’d say, this is probably a drum break because this area of this composition is shiny. And I would buy two of these and I would take it home. And the shit might be someone on a violin. Them shits was called my stiffs.

“So I had crates and crates of stiffs. So what I would do is, for example, Take Me to the Mardi Gras, I would take two stiffs that I couldn’t return back because once you break the shrink wrap, you bought it. And I would soak the two copies of the stiffs in a bathtub and then sink and then put Take Me to the Mardi Gras in the bathtub until the labels came off. And what I would do is switch the labels on it, so if there was a person from another DJ crew that was trying to see what I was playing, the label was wrong,” he shares.

The DJ went on to explain how his secret gave him “big laughs” over the years, “They like, ‘Flash, we let the record play, we cleaned our house, and we just let the whole shit play from side A to side B, we never found it.’ It’s because I switched the label.

“So I mean, it was somewhat of a secrecy. Now, I don’t mind letting the secrets out now. But that was part of the fun. If I didn’t want to scratch it out, I knew there were spies from other DJ crews that wanted to know what I was playing,” he concludes.

Keep up to date with the latest news from Grandmaster Flash via his official website.


Get the latest news, reviews and tutorials to your inbox.

Join Our Mailing List & Get Exclusive DealsSign Up Now

The world’s leading media brand at the intersection of music and technology.

© 2024 MusicTech is part of NME Networks.