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He started writing “The Message” in 1980, the same year he became a studio guitarist at Sugar Hill Records, which released the early work of groups such as the Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Born Edward Fletcher. With the Sugar Hill acts, Fletcher also toured and contributed to the composition and recording of their seminal albums.

He started writing “The Message” in 1980, the same year he became a studio guitarist at Sugar Hill Records, which released the early work of groups such as the Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Born Edward Fletcher. With the Sugar Hill acts, Fletcher also toured and contributed to the composition and recording of their seminal albums.

“The Message” depicts the “jungle” that lives in an oppressive city, marking a sharp distinction between the era’s hip-hop songs, which were mostly upbeat and designed to drive an audience.

While the Sugar Hill acts were initially hesitant to release the track, it proved to be an instant success and has since been widely regarded as the greatest song in hip-hop history, influencing major artists like Jay-Z and the Notorious BIG The song proved hip-hop could be a medium for enacting sociopolitical change, according to Questlove, who cited the track as one of his top hip-hop songs of all time.

Fletcher was born in Elizabeth on June 6, 1951. Ga.-Ga. Growing up, he took percussion and xylophone lessons at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and performed in cover bands. He performed with local New Jersey bands after graduating in 1973 with an English degree. After he gained some success playing “Contact” on Edwin Starr’s disco single, he began working at Sugar Hill.

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When he realized his paycheck was not worth wasting time away from his family, Fletcher left the music industry early. He received master’s degrees in media studies from the New School and in education from Rutgers University to return to teaching.

He worked at a detention facility for teenagers, a middle school and two universities and spent the last decade of his career at Savannah State University as a professor in critical thought and communication. In 2019, he withdrawn.


His wife, Rosita Ross, his two daughters, Owen Fletcher and Branice Moore, and his five grandchildren all survive.

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