Malcolm McLaren the Man Who brought Us Buffalo Gals and Fuzed Hip Hop and Punk is Dead

Malcolm McLaren was an important figure both in Hip Hop and early punk.. Many outside the US knew him for his work in the punk world. Most of us who were around in the early 80s  knew McLaren because of his work with the World Famous Supreme Team radio show and his hit records Buffalo Gals, Hey DJ and Hobo Scratch which for many outside of New York was the first time they heard scratching. A true pioneer on a number of levels..McLaren to me was one of those crucial bridges between punk and Hip Hop. That’s a history that is often overlooked and down played..

Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of the Sex Pistols and impresario, has died. He was 64.

McLaren had had cancer for some time. His condition recently deteriorated rapidly and he died this morning in New York. His body is expected to be brought home to be buried in Highgate cemetery, north London.

Born in North London, McLaren was best known as the manager of the iconic punk band The Sex Pistols. After attending and dropping out of several art colleges in 1971 he opened a clothes shop on the King’s Road , Let It Rock, with Vivienne Westwood.

He achieved the notoriety that never left him when The Sex Pistols’ anti-establishment single God Save The Queen stole the number one spot during the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977. His spokesman Les Molloy told The Independent: “He had been suffering from cancer for some time, but recently had been full of health, which then rapidly deteroriated. He died in New York this morning. We are expecting his body to be brought back to London and buried in Highgate Cemetery.”

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13 comments on “Malcolm McLaren the Man Who brought Us Buffalo Gals and Fuzed Hip Hop and Punk is Dead

  1. i remember when malcom brought air time on whbi back 1982 with 2young fellows from bed stuy named jus allah the super star, and c devine the master mind. Better known as the world famous supreme team show.

  2. Dang! This is truly terrible. popular Music lost a great eccentric impresario..

    ..Almost hard to believe, that this british guy who was the manager/cofounder of the Sex Pistols ended up getting involved in hip-hop–

    back in ’99 (wow, 10+ years!!), I bought a compilation CD released on Priority, Looks like it is still available as an import–

    My tribute here:

  3. did McLaren fuse hip-hop and punk?

    not really.

    he WAS associated with both.

    However, McLaren was maybe more of an opportunist looking for the next big thing than an innovator. Punk was already happening when he got involved, and so was hip-hop. Duck Rock really wasnt a punk rock record, it was more of a new wave/hip-hop/world music album.

    also, there was 5 years in-between the Sex Pistols breakup (1978) and Duck Rock (1983).

    the first punk/hip-hop crossover was probably the Clash’s “the Magnificent 7,” which was made in 1980:

    “”The Magnificent Seven” is a song and single by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was the third single from their fourth album Sandinista!. It reached number 34 on the UK singles chart.[1]

    The song was inspired by raps by old school hip hop acts from New York City, like the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.[2] Rap was still a new and emerging music genre at the time and the band, especially Mick Jones, was very impressed with it, so much so that Jones took to carrying a boombox around and got the nickname ‘Whack Attack’.”

    also, Futura 2000 toured and later recorded with the Clash, Chris Stein of Blondie produced the s/t to “Wild Style,” Bambaataa recorded with John Lydon and covered the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jam”, and the Cold Crush Brothers made a song called “punk rock rap.”

    IMO, those were all far bigger examples of actual fusion between the two genres. not saying that there was no connection between punk and hip-hop whatsoever but there was probably more crossover between new wave and hip-hop if you really want to get technical about it.

    also, buffalo gals and she’s looking like a hobo were great records, as was hey dj, but i give WFST as much credit as McLaren for those.

    also, i would say celluloid records–which put out the futura 2000, phase 2, and time zone records as well as DST and Fab 5 Freddy, was much more innovative and involved with that early 80s NYC avant-garde street sound than McLaren.

    i did like McLaren’s hip-hopera version of Carmen though, which had DJ Alladin and i think Grandmaster Caz.

  4. it wasn’t really the Magnificent 7, the Magnificent 7, hipped the vanity crowd aka the so-called mainstreamed intellect Greenwich Village crowd, at the time to rap music. because before then they only knew of rapper’s delight, and it wasn’t so-much it was Magnificent 7, It was Magnificent dance, that was the b-side to Magnificent 7, which got major club play and radio play here in nyc back in 1981. As for Mr. McLaren looking for the next big thing i dunno, you gotta try to remember or understand back in the late 70’s and early 1980’s it wasn’t so much about the next big thing, it was about could you put something out that could be considered hotter than the next persons! names like Tommy Silverman come to mind aka tommy Boy records who borrowed 5000 bucks from his family to start up a lable because he saw a new street sound coming out of the streets of nyc, by the time the cold crush brothers released punk rock rap the punk rocl dance was dead, dances like the fred flinstone and the smurf had surplated the punk rock read further and you will understand, during 1979-1980 a popular nyc dance called the punk rock was in style. I think you are confusing the treachours 3’s late 1980 release named the body rock. where kool moe dee gives reference to the popular dance here in nyc at the time called the punk rock. What McLaren was able to do that I noticed you left out was call to the attention that many people here in the states didn’t put out in media, other than Bob laws night talk show back in 1983 that was the only nationally syndicated black radio talk show at the time, what Mclaren did was put the plight happening in south africa on record. If you have the first mcLaren and Supreme Team 12 inch from 1983 it contains 3 tracks Do You Like Scratchin? Soweto, and Zulus On A time Bomb. If anything Mclaren peeped those who didn’t know or relize about the plight happening in south africa in the eraly 1980’s through rap music or hiphop if you want to call it that peace. don;t be fooled by wikipedia………

  5. that’s an interesting take which certainly adds another perspective…

    but the Clash were still the first punk group to fuse hip-hop…they also had a record on their next album called “overpowered by funk” from 1982 which has futura rapping about the MTA spending 20mil to buff the trains. both of those came out before mclaren and WFST… and “world desruction” with bambaataaa and john lydon was probably the most direct and obvious example of actual crossover between the two genres.

    by 1980, some people were already saying punk was dead… new wave kinda was the next big thing…one reason hip-hop and new wave went together was both used electronic drums. punk wasnt so much a club sound as it was a live sound.

    the ramones were doing their thing in NYC but they didnt really cross over to the urban/hip-hop crowd like the other CBGB’s groups like the Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club and Blondie, if you notice, Debbie Harry name checks “the punk rock” along with Flash and Fab 5 Freddy in Rapture.

    i remember the soweto record, it was township jive over dance beats, i dont recall it being TOO political, in the sense that the special aka’s “free nelson mandela” or the sun city record was…if you recall, the anti-apartheid movement didnt really get a lot of momentum until the late 80s…

    all of that is not to take anything away from mclaren and his contributions to music, he was a pioneer and an innovator in one sense, but also an opportunist.

  6. There’s a variety of ways to define fuse.. You can talk about it from the standpoint of bringing two cultures together.. either accidently or deliberately.. and look at how that happened and why..

    You can talk about it from the stand point of one being an ambassador or iconic figure who became an attraction to both worlds.. lastly there are all sorts of takes on the history… Speaking from my perspective as pretty active deejay at that time.. who spun at large gigs both black and white gigs/ soul and rock gigs with my two crews.. Buffalo Gals was huge.. I first heard that record being played on punk/ rock shows on KALX.. back in 82′ 83.. Thats I how I got introduced to the record.. Later on I saw the record gain headway into Hip Hop circles and I was definitely one spinning it at Pauley ballroom dances, ASU dances etc.. etc… People back in those days saw Mclaren as a iconic figure.. That’s why it got played.. in addition to it being a damn good record…I would also note that many Hip Hop heads saw new Wave and Punk as one and the same.. while rock heads saw a distinction.. I also know I would have to play that record several times a night..

    At the white gigs I did it was mixture of new wave and some punk..More new wave at the frat houses and definitely more punk oriented at the Co-ops.. Clash was played.. but rarely played Maginificent 7..And the only time we played Clash at Black gigs was maybe Rock the Cashbah, and that was rare.. It may have been big in New York.. It was never big in the gigs I did …compared to ther cuts .. I’d probably defer to my partner Patrick who was the other half of the NY LA Connection who was definitely knee deep into the scene..and from LA … I have almost every party tape we did back in those days.. and we would play Buffalo Gals with Tom Tom Club, Ministry Everyday is Halloween.. a few other joints i have to go look up..

    Bottomline I knew McLaren as a punk guy back in those days.. I knew him to be down with the sex pistol. We can speculate all day on why he made his ways from punk to Hip Hop for either genuine or exploitative reasons, he was still a very visible undeniable connection..Him entering into rap the way he did had some circles.. No one group, Beasty Boys, Fab 5, Blondie, Thomas Dolby, Bam, Johnny Rotten etc is gonna be the be all end all and we shouldn’t try to look it as such..I certainly wasn’t doing that with McLaren, but I most certainly not gonna shit on his name because there was a couple of records here or there that popped out or some one says he was shady.. The impact of Buffalo Gals was huge and as a Hip Hop record with a punk influence / icon at the healm it was bigger then most records at the time that had appeal in both worlds.. and we knew it more so for McLaren then we did the Supreme Team or anyone else.. and for punk guy that was pretty major..

  7. Zion good point about Mclaren.. i almost forgot the the south African thing.. I think people forget how big that record was back at that time.. It was a hot track with a style and sound no one had heard before …. I have to go back and listen to some of our old tapes..It was fascinating to hear what we could and did play at different events and how they crossed over.. I think there were some similarities to what was going on in NY but also some big differences as well…I also should note that Hobo Scratch was huge onto itself.. Most people saw the two songs as one and the same.. The scratching opened up a lot of folks to deejaying

  8. i see your point davey, at a certain point this argument is over semantics…to me fusion is more about synthesis than appropriation, but whatever…

    bottom line is there is definitely a link between underground cultures of that time, but i dont think anyone can say the terms hip-hop and punk were ever synonymous. punk was probably more connected to reggae and ska, if anything. buffalo gals was simply a great record, but i would call that more of a dance record than a punk record.

    McLaren may have been down with the Pistols in 1977, but after the band broke up in 1978, they had an acrimonious split. McLaren went on to manage Adam and the Ants so he was definitely on the new wave tip by the ’80s. you have to remember punk, was like 1975-1976 in the UK, so by the early 80s you had all these people like Billy Idol and the Eurythmics who had been punks but were being pushed as new wave by big labels along with Duran Duran, the Fixx, Soft Cell, and other groups like that.

    as far as scratching, Hobo Scratch and Do Ya Like Scratching were major but Wrecking Cru’s Surgery, Egyptian Lover’s What is a DJ, Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay, and UTFO’s Roxanne were also pretty big influences, as was Herbie Hancock’s Rockit.

    i think the KALX scene of the early ’80s was a bit of an anomaly as there was perhaps more direct crossover with hip-hop and punk than other places. KALX punk DJs would play Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” next to the Nails “88 Lines About 44 Women” or Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman.” Billy Jam in particular was a punk DJ who went on to become a hip-hop DJ.

    but i still remember the skater punks who were into groups like Toxic Reasons and the Dead Kennedys as not really being into the early hip-hop stuff like Jonzun Crew and SoulSonic Force.

    IMO, New Wave and hip-hop went together a lot more naturally because of the synths and electronic drums both used. back in the day, Thomas Dolby , Thompson Twins, the Tom Tom Club, New Order, Yaz and the Human League would get played next to George Clinton, Prince and LA Dream Team… a lot of those records were similar in BPMs so it was easy for DJs to mix them…you couldnt really do that with too many punk songs as they were faster for the most part and didnt have electronic drums so beat-mixing was difficult. also people tended to slam-dance to the really aggressive punk stuff.

    the Beastie Boys were probably the first group to directly wear both hip-hop and punk influences on their sleeves, but they didnt really hit outside of NYC until after Run-DMC blew up… i dont really remember Soweto being that big of a record btw… later on, hip-hop and rock/new wave would diverge, but there was definitely a time back in the early 80s when they were very close. McLaren was definitely a part of that era, as were the Clash, Tom Tom Club, Blondie, and a lot of other folks…

  9. I always personally felt that Malcolm Mclaren and Tommy Boy Records were throwing Rap Music off course with their new musical additioning and using none of the ingredients of “real” Rap Music. But nevertheless, rest in peace Malcolm Mclaren, you introduced break dancing to the world with your video prior to the “media” further stepping in to exploit. RIP – but wake up, people!

  10. “Which for many outside of New York was the first time they heard scratching” – I know the dude is dead and all, but please stop giving “our’ history away to these people. They arlready changed the name of the craft and own everything. YOU PEOPLE NEED TO BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES AND IF GRAND MASTER FLASH HAD ANY BALLS AND WASN’T SUCH A SELL-OUT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD THE TRUTH. DON’T LET JUNKIES BE ON NO PEDASTALS -EVER!!!!


  12. just for the record… people in california heard scratching as far back as 1982… i dont know about hip-hop not being ‘black music’, that seems a little harsh…it think its been a hybrid/fusionistic form since its inception, but i realize there are purists who cling to idealistic views of what hip-hop ever was.

    malcolm mclaren, i give him props but not more than he deserves. he’s not hip-hop without WFST, just a white guy with a record deal. the clash and blondie i would give more props, since they got down with people. magnificent seven, that song is dope, one of their best songs. joe strummer wasnt much of a rapper but he comes correct on that one.

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