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Kurtis Blow

As the first commercially successful rap artist, Kurtis Blow is a towering figure in hip-hop history. His popularity and charisma helped prove that rap music was something more than a flash-in-the-pan novelty, paving the way for the even greater advances of Grandmaster Flash and Run-D.M.C. Blow was the first rapper to sign with (and release an album for) a major label; the first to have a single certified gold (1980's landmark "The Breaks"); the first to embark on a national (and international) concert tour; and the first to cement rap's mainstream marketability by signing an endorsement deal. For that matter, he was really the first significant solo rapper on record, and as such he was a natural focal point for many aspiring young MCs in the early days of hip-hop. For all his immense importance and influence, many of Blow's records haven't dated all that well; his rapping technique, limber for its time, simply wasn't as evolved as the more advanced MCs who built upon his style and followed him up the charts. But at his very best, Blow epitomizes the virtues of the old school: ingratiating, strutting party music that captures the exuberance of an art form still in its youth.

Kurtis Blow was born Kurtis Walker in Harlem in 1959. He was in on the earliest stages of hip-hop culture in the '70s -- first as a breakdancer, then as a block-party and club DJ performing under the name Kool DJ Kurt; after enrolling at CCNY in 1976, he also served as program director for the college radio station. He became an MC in his own right around 1977, and changed his name to Kurtis Blow (as in a body blow) at the suggestion of his manager, future Def Jam founder and rap mogul Russell Simmons. Blow performed with legendary DJs like Grandmaster Flash, and for a time his regular DJ was Simmons' teenage brother Joseph -- who, after changing his stage name from "Son of Kurtis Blow," would go on to become the first half of Run-D.M.C. Over 1977-1978, Blow's club gigs around Harlem and the Bronx made him an underground sensation, and Billboard magazine writer Robert Ford approached Simmons about making a record. Blow cut a song co-written by Ford and financier J.B. Moore called "Christmas Rappin'," and it helped him get a deal with Mercury once the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" had climbed into the R&B Top Five.

Blow's second single, "The Breaks," was an out-of-the-box smash, following "Rapper's Delight" into the Top Five of the R&B charts in 1980 and eventually going gold; it still ranks as one of old school rap's greatest and most enduring moments. The full-length album Kurtis Blow was also released in 1980, and made the R&B Top Ten in spite of many assumptions that the Sugarhill Gang's success was a one-time fluke. Although the album's attempts at soul crooning and rock covers haven't dated well, the poverty-themed "Hard Times" marked perhaps the first instance of hip-hop's social consciousness, and was later covered by Run-D.M.C. Blow initially found it hard to follow up "The Breaks," despite releasing nearly an album a year for most of the '80s. 1981's Deuce and 1982's Tough weren't huge sellers, and 1983's Party Time EP brought D.C. go-go funksters E.U. on board for a stylistic update. Around this time, Blow was also making his mark as a producer, working with a variety of hip-hop and R&B artists; most notably, he helmed most of the Fat Boys' records after helping them get a record deal. 1984's Ego Trip sold respectably well on the strength of cuts like the DJ tribute "AJ Scratch," the agreeably lightweight "Basketball," and the Run-D.M.C. duet "8 Million Stories." Blow followed it with an appearance in the cult hip-hop film Krush Groove, in which he performed "If I Ruled the World," his biggest hit since "The Breaks."

"If I Ruled the World" proved to be the last gasp of Blow's popularity, as hip-hop's rapid growth made his style seem increasingly outdated. 1985's America was largely ignored, and 1986's Kingdom Blow was afforded an icy reception despite producing a final chart hit, "I'm Chillin'." Critics savaged his final comeback attempt, 1988's Back by Popular Demand, almost invariably pointing out that the title, at that point, was not true. In its wake, Blow gave up the ghost of his recording career, but found other ways to keep the spirit of the old school alive. In the early '90s, he contributed rap material to the TV soap opera One Life to Live, and later spent several years hosting an old-school hip-hop show on Los Angeles radio station Power 106. In 1997, Rhino Records took advantage of his status as a hip-hop elder statesmen by hiring him to produce, compile, and write liner notes for the three-volume series Kurtis Blow Presents the History of Rap. The same year, he was a significant presence in the rap documentary Rhyme and Reason. Blow's music has also been revived by younger artists seeking to pay tribute; Nas covered "If I Rule the World" on 1996's It Was Written, and R&B group Next sampled "Christmas Rappin'" for their 1998 smash "Too Close." ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

As an Old Head, I can actually recall the impact of The Breaks. On the national scene, Hip Hop was still fledgling and we were all reeling from Rappers Delight. Kurtis brought something unique to the scene: whereas the Sugarhill Gang sampled Chic's Good Times for their smash hit, Kurtis came through with fresh instrumentat i o n . Sadly, by the time we were watching him perform If I Ruled the World in the movie 'Krush Groove', the game had changed. Still and all, he holds bragging rights as a true p
He is the man!!
This is rap old school baby and I'm only 17 I love kurtis.
Basketball has always been my thing i like magic bird and benard king.and number 33 my man kareem is the center of my starting team
Reminds me of 9th grade in 1980 jamming to this song!!!
Alll Here we go again love him we were born the same year another one of my favorite artist Kurtis Blow love him !!!!
I can listen to this old school song everyday of the year Yuup Kurtis and I are the same age same year 1959 !!!!
Old school jams good memories shout out to every one in Compton So Cal !!!
Good jam
Classic
that's the brakes
love it.
Aint no body like kurtis
Old skool!! Good old school days!! ❌❤❌❤
GodFather of rap.
Starlife by Kurtis Blow pretty kool rola!!
VARRIO HARDTIMES!! ORANGE*COUNT Y SURENOS TRECE GRANDE GROVER BUENA CLINTON AREA!! MR.SMOKEY!!
from 1980...wow
og
# 1 rapper....
All I need is my adidas gear and shoes and Im set to jam...FO SHO !!!
katie-did04
8000000 stories...be s t kurtis blow song
old skool at its best
in the day we use to have house parties and this was the song we got down on those were the good days no fights just fun
CapeSkate - with DJ Johnny Wright my cousin...Thi s song is a classic
I had a bad break when I broke my ankle.
THTS THE BREAKS THE ONLY SONG KURTIS BLOW MADE ANIT THT NOTHING...
Kurtis Blow Christmas song will always be the #1 song, and These are the Breaks are #2. I call him King Kurtis. My name is Kurtis Tyree of Washington, DC of S.E. Anacostia
dougherty_sa m
a yes ah yes guy red say what i said ah yeher.
Well these are the Breaks Break it up Break it up Break it up break Down!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! HaHa classic
dougherty_sa m
hit and rool at the roller gardens mn st louis park thurs nights 9to 11
dougherty_sa m
hot and roll sammy d style hi tech 2000. style hitme 218-443-2140
duchess110
They don't make rap like this no more. I remember writing down the lyrics to learn this rap LOL...
A.....J....1 for you.....got to love the origins of hip hop & the legends that made it happen for our younger generation to reap the benifits 2day. Yeah Curtis Blow is Fresh Fresh Ya'll. PEACE!
This is the way rap should be
the breaks brings back lots of memories of being in North Carolina in the early '80s. saw kurtis on the Michael Baisden show. he still looks good and had the moves.
I miss hin on Sirius radio!!! The biggest mistake they have made was to drop (and bring back) Backspin without him....
This is what rap should be not about the nastiness that I hear today.
i love your music rev kurtis blow and crunk wit it and got christ
THE BREAKS WAS THE FIRST LP I STOLE!!!! AHHH.... BEING A BADASS...THO S E WERE THE DAYS.
enriquevega6 4
What can I say, many of these songs are from my youth, and, as I cannot recall the year, well I heard them when they came out. These are the Jams.
cpmustangs95
Basketball and 8 millon stories was the shyt! We were bumping KB in Cali!
tb51063
Old skool rap will last foreva!! U can tell, they are sampling off it. If it wasn't for Kurt Blow, The Fearless Four, Nairobi/The Awesome Foursome, Run D Mc, Whodini, The Fat Boys, Sugarhill Gang, where would Rap be today, Better go to your history and find out!!!!!!! Thank you Mr. Blow.
i'd like to give props to Mr. Blow
Kurtis makes visits to churches with his new brand of inspirationa l rap. I saw a piece on TV on how he's helping the youth of churchs turn things around in their lives. That's a good thing.
and just where is kurtis now?
those are the br3eaks.old school bebe!
You all don't know about this !!

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