Duke Bootee

  • Duke Bootee
  • Bust Me Out (Mercury) 1984 

Duke Bootee (Edward Fletcher, in his other life a Newark, NJ schoolteacher) is one of the unsung heroes of rap. As a member of the Sugar Hill label’s extraordinary house band, he wrote the tune, “chorus” and half the raps for “The Message.” Although that groundbreaking single came out under the name of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the raps belong to Bootee and Melle Mel. The two paired up less successfully (and more formulaically) on “Message II” and “New York, New York,” before Bootee rediscovered the urban claustrophobia groove on the title track of his solo LP. The album boasts aggressive playing and production from his old Sugar Hill friends, and the rap side (as opposed to the song side) smokes.

[John Leland]