Melissa W. Rawlins
June 24, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

You can teach an old legend new tricks. Just ask hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, who recently hooked up with his former MC Melle Mel to bolster new wave pinups Duran Duran’s remake of Flash and Mel’s 1983 ”White Lines” for a Duran cover album due in September. ”The funk does not have a color barrier,” says the DJ (ne Joseph Saddler), now in his late 30s. ”As a matter of fact, our version was more poppy than theirs.”

With the renewed taste for old-school rap, Flash — who some 20 years ago was among the first to turn the scratch of stylus on vinyl into music — has assumed his place of honor behind the turntables, touring Germany, Japan, and the U.S. this spring with seminal rappers Whodini and Kurtis Blow. And he’s getting props from more than ’80s hairspray bands: Nas’ illmatic samples a sound bite from the 1982 film Wild Style that captures the party-making skills of the Grandmaster, then New York’s hottest DJ. ”It’s great that the newer artists know where it came from, because it wasn’t easy,” he says. But that doesn’t mean Flash — who coproduced and performed on a track for Terminator X’s new album, Super Bad — wants to wallow in his groundbreaking memories: ”In hip-hop, the formula was set so that it could be constantly re-innovated,” he says. ”So I would say to the hip-hop world, don’t hold back anything, because that thing that you hold back might be the next big thing.”

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