Kurtis Blow: Wikis


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Kurtis Blow
Birth name Kurtis Walker
Born August 9, 1959 (1959-08-09) (age 50)
Origin Harlem, New York City, New York, US
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper/singer, record producer, DJ
Instruments Keyboards, Guitar, Drums, Vocals
Years active 1979—
Labels Krush Records

Kurtis Walker (born 9 August 1959), better known by his stage name Kurtis Blow, is an American rapper and music producer. He is one of the first commercially successful rappers and the first to sign with a major record label. "The Breaks", a single from his 1980 debut album, is the first certified gold rap song.



Kurtis was born in Harlem, New York, New York, and got his public start in 1972 as a B-boy and a DJ going by the name of Kool DJ Kurt. He is a pioneer of recorded rap, recognized for his street sense, social criticism, and commercial savvy.

In 1979, at age twenty, Kurtis Blow became the first rapper to be signed by a major label, Mercury, which released "Christmas Rappin'". 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. His first album is Kurtis Blow. His second, a Top 50 Pop Album Deuce, was a big hit across Europe.[citation needed] Party Time featured a pioneering fusion of rap and go go. Ego Trip includes the hits “8 Million Stories”, “AJ”, and “Basketball”. His 1985 album, America, garnered praise for its title track's music video; From this album, the song “If I Ruled the World” became a Top 5 hit on Billboard’s R & B chart. In 1996, the rapper Nas debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Pop Album chart with a cover version of the song.

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.” Lovebug Starski, [, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Full Force, Russell Simmons and Wyclef Jean all have been produced or have worked with Blow. Former label mates Rene & Angela had their chart topping debut “Save Your Love for # 1” gift wrapped by Kurtis Blow.

Along with Dexter Scott King, Kurtis Blow coordinated “King Holiday”, a song to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The Mercury/Polygram single, co-produced by Blow, includes the collaborative efforts of Whitney Houston, New Edition, Stephanie Mills, El Debarge, James "JT" Taylor of Kool & the Gang, The Fat Boys and Run DMC, among others.

Kurtis Blow's acting performances and music coordination in several movies including Leon Kennedy’s Cry of the City and the hip hop film Krush Groove have won him praise. The New York Daily News called his cinematic works “Noteworthy, A Dynamic Presence.”[citation needed] As host and co producer for Das Leben Amerikanischer Gangs, an international film production's focus on the West Coast gang scene, Kurtis Blow crossed international waters for inner city justice (1995). As host and associate producer for Rhyme and Reason Blow gives an informative account of the status of hip hop (1998). The History Of Rap, which he produced and wrote, has been planned for a cinema release.

Kurtis Blow speaks out emphatically against racism. He was an active participant in the Artists Against Apartheid record “Sun City” Kurtis Blow also speaks out against alcoholism and drug use. He has served as a 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 in the “Say No To Drugs” campaign. He has been involved with Phoenix House of California, a substance abuse organization with black community emphasis.

In 1995, he started working on-air in radio, Power 106, the #1 CHR radio station in Southern California. He hosted The Old School Show on Sunday nights, featuring hits from the past. The show was rated #1 for four years. He works for Sirius Satellite Radio on the Classic Old School Hip Hop station Backspin 43.

Beginning in 1996 Kurtis Blow was featured in a hip hop display at the Rock and 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, Kurtis Blow traveled to the Middle East to tour the Armed Forces bases for 17 shows, performing for the troops. 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.”[citation needed]


Having made a deep commitment to the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ, Kurtis attended ministry classes at Nyack College. As Founder of The Hip Hop Church, Kurtis serves as rapper, DJ, worship leader and licensed minister. He became an ordained minister on August 16, 2009. There are several hip hop churches in the US, and he is involved with many of them. “Don't get it twisted, God has always existed,” says Kurtis, “and in terms of these young people out here who love God but do not like to go to church, only hip hop can bring them back to the church.”


Among 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 (with The Commodores, 1980)
  • First rapper to record a national commercial (Sprite)
  • First rapper to use the drum machine, sample and sample loop
  • First rap music video (“Basketball”)
  • First rap producer (rap's producer of the year in 1983 and 1985[citation needed])
  • First rapper featured in a soap opera (One Life to Live)
  • First rap millionaire

References in popular culture

The They Might Be Giants song "Where Your Eyes Don't Go" on their second album, Lincoln, features the lines "You're free to come and go / Or talk like Kurtis Blow."

The Ice Cube song "Now I gotta wet 'cha" features the line "I'll Kurtis Blow yo ass away/Like AJ"

The Tom Tom Club song "Genius of Love" features the lines "Steppin' to the rhythm of a Kurtis Blow / Who needs to think when your feet just go."

The song "Christmas Rappin'" was featured during a Christmas episode of the TV sitcom Martin. A dwarf couple dances to the song on Martin's show "Word on the Street." The song appears again during the closing credits when Martin and Gina make love under the Christmas tree and the tree "bounces" to the beat of the song.

Bruce Haack's 1982 single "Party Machine" prominently features the lyric, "Low low low like Kurtis Blow/ Down down down like James Brown."

The song "Music Matters" by Faithless mentions Kurtis Blow: "From Bamma Lamma to Tamla Mo, Curtis Mayfield to Kurtis Blow".

Kurtis Blow is mentioned in the feature film Notorious. In the biopic, when The Notorious B.I.G. was a child, he is shown to be a fan of Blow. As an adult, The Notorious B.I.G. sings Blow's "The Breaks" with his young daughter listening and learning it.

The 2Pac song "Old School" features the line "Remember poppin' and lockin' to Kurtis Blow, the name belts".

In the fourth chapter of Chronicles: Volume One, Bob Dylan claims to have known Blow and that it was Kurtis who introduced Dylan to the entire rap genre of the time (mentioning contemporary artists like Ice-T, N.W.A. and Public Enemy).



  • Kurtis Blow (1980, Mercury)
  • Deuce (1981, Mercury)
  • Tough (1982, Mercury)
  • The Best Rapper on the Scene (1983, Mercury)
  • Ego Trip (1984, Mercury)
  • America (1985, Mercury)
  • Kingdom Blow (1986, Mercury)
  • Back by Popular Demand (1988, Mercury)
  • Kurtis Blow Presents: Hip Hop Ministry (2007, EMI Gospel)
  • Just Do It (2008, Krush Groove/Trinity/B4 Ent.) (with The Trinity)
  • Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (2009, Krush Groove/Trinity/B4 Ent.) (with The Trinity)

Singles and EPs

  • 1979: "Christmas Rappin'" (Mercury MDS-4009)
  • 1980: "The Breaks" (Mercury MDS 4010) inspired Christopher " Biggie Smalls" Wallace to take up rapping.
  • 1982: "Tough EP" (Mercury)
  • 1983: "Party Time EP" (Mercury)
  • 1983: "Nervous" (Mercury)
  • 1984: "Ego Trip" (Mercury)
  • 1986: "The Bronx" (Mercury)

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