Kurtis Blow, one of the founders and creators of recorded rap, stands as an emerging leader in a new generation of rappers with street sense, social criticism, and commercial savvy, a timeless artist and hip hop legend, Kurtis Blow has been instrumental in raising up a generation of MC’s, and he will soon carry the torch for hip hop music into new arenas.
In 1979, at the age of twenty, Kurtis Blow became the first Rapper to be signed by a major label. Mercury released Christmas Rappin, and it sold over 400,000 copies and it became an annual classic. Its gold follow up The Breaks helped ignite a still spreading international Rap Attack. He released 10 Albums over 11 years — The first entitled Kurtis Blow, his full length debut and his second, a Top 50 Pop Album Deuce, a big hit across Europe; Party Time which featured a pioneering fusion of Rap and Go Go; Ego Trip, which includes the hits 8 Million Stories, AJ, and Basketball and in 1985, America. America’s video innovation received a MTV Monitor Award. From this album, the song If I Ruled the World became a top 5 hit on Billboard’s R & B chart. Columbia/Sony recording artist Nas debuted at # 1 on the Billboard’s Pop Album chart with a cover of the song in 1997.
Besides his own work, Kurtis has been responsible for Rap hits by The Fat Boys and Run DMC. Run began his career billed as The son of Kurtis Blow. Love Bug Starski, Sweet Gee, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Full Force, Russell Simmons and Wyclef Jean all have been produced or have worked with Blow in the past. Additionally former label mates Rene & Angela had their chart topping debut Save Your Love for # 1 gift wrapped by Kurtis Blow.
Kurtis Blow speaks out emphatically against racism. His raps, with cinematic sensibilities, open the world’s eyes and ears to inner city truth as much as they celebrate the purer pleasure of modern living. He was also an active participant in the blistering Artist Against Apartheid Record Sun City. Kurtis Blow speaks out emphatically against Alcohol and Drugs. Kurtis’ innate ability to reach people is also evident in his selection as spokesperson for The National Ad Counsel. He is an integral part of its youth campaign and can be seen and heard in print, radio and television nationwide as the first to Say No To Drugs. He has also been involved with Phoenix House of California, a substance abuse organization with Black community emphasis.
In 1996 Kurtis Blow was featured in a Hip Hop display at the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. The display still stands. In 1998 the group Next released Too Close, in which the music of Christmas Rap was sampled for the #1 pop songs background track. Too Close was the longest running #1 song of 1998 for Billboards Pop Chart. ASCAP honored Blow and Next at a gala affair on May 26, 1999. In 2002 after 9/11, Kurtis went overseas to the Middle East to tour the Armed Forces Bases for 17 shows to bring a little bit of back home to the troops stationed there. The tour consisted of shows in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Krgystan, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman It was a tour I will never forget, Blow says, I did the Bob Hope thing.
Here are many of the firsts credited to Kurtis Blow:
- First rapper to sign to a Major label
- First certified gold record for rap (The Breaks)
- First rapper to tour US & Europe (w/ The Commodores, 1980)
- First rapper to record a national commercial (Sprite)
- First rapper to use the drum machine, sample & sample loop
- First rap music video (Basketball)
- First rap producer (Rap’s producer of the year in 1983 85)
- First rapper featured in a soap opera (One Life to Live)
- First rap millionaire
Kurtis Blow helped legitimize Hip Hop, and now, he intends to help redeem it.
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