Pioneer Hip Hop Producer Grandmaster Flash on His ‘Quick Mix Theory’ and the Current AI Boom: ‘I May Want to Test It.’

In the 70s, Joseph Robert Sadler, best known as Grandmaster Flash, created a DJ technique called the ‘Quick Mix Theory.’ Today, many consider it the precursor to sampling — the early sound that helped carve the hip hop genre into the cultural movement it is today.

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Grandmaster Flash — one of the world’s first hip-hop producers — sat down with Digital Music News to discuss the progression and evolution of hip hop over the years.

Speaking about his ‘Quick Mix Theory’ and how it shaped the global hip hop phenomena, Flash explained, “Before there was the rapper, the beatboxer, and the turntable, it was just [me] taking two copies of the same record and repeating one particular area or piece of music composition.”

“It could have been a section from a pop, rock, jazz, blues, funk, disco, or R&B record,” Flash said, adding, “At the same time, I put a microphone on the other side of the table just to see if someone could talk to this new style of DJ — called ‘Quick Mix Theory.’”

“What I was doing on the turntables — being able to take a small piece from a composition and extend that, and have a human speak on it — was human sampling,” said Flash, revealing, “[Then] the producers got involved.”

Once music producers stepped into the picture, Flash explained that they would take a small piece of that existing composition, ‘put it on a floppy, and tell the computer and the sampler to loop that particular section over and over again,’ adding, “[Now] they go into a recording studio.”

“So here we are, pretty much doing the same thing that I invented when I first was doing it in the park 50 years ago.”

While talking about artificial intelligence and its potential impact on music production, Flash shared that he doesn’t think AI can recreate the spontaneity of his DJ set — just yet.

“I may want to test it,” he said, explaining that his own natural curiosity has left him open to the possibility of experimenting with AI soon.

Today, Grandmaster Flash makes a fantastic living booking speaking engagements and DJing special events. But he shares that had he known fifty years ago the impact his ‘Quick Mix Theory’ would have on the economics of music, he would have leveraged the idea more, adding, “I probably would have been a trillionaire.”

Flash expressed that instead, “I have a trillionaire of love everywhere I go,” saying that he’s grateful to fans that tell him how his contribution to music has positively impacted their lives.