Sounds Visual Radio
Sounds Visual Radio
Episode 139: Kurtis Blow

Kurtis Blow is rightly considered one of the most important figures in the history of hip-hop music. He helped to bridge the gap between what was, at the time, the underground hip-hop scene and mainstream audiences. He had a lot of firsts in his career: the first rapper to be signed by a major label in 1979; one of the first rappers to perform on national television; one of the first rappers whose music was often played on mainstream radio stations–thus introducing a wider audience to the language and sound of rap music; one of the first hip-hop artists to use live instrumentation in his music; and one of the first to tour extensively. Blow’s street-smart image, effortlessly cool style and on-point songwriting also helped to pave the way for the next generation of rappers.

When Mercury released Blow’s debut 12″, “Christmas Rappin,” it sold over 400,000 copies. His gold-selling follow‑up “The Breaks,” sold even better, and became an instant classic. He eventually released 10 albums over 11 years–the first entitled Kurtis Blow and his second, a Top 50 Pop Album, Deuce, which became 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.” 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.

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, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman “It was a tour I will never forget,” Blow says, “I did the Bob Hope thing.”

Kurtis Blow helped legitimize Hip Hop, and now, he intends to help redeem it.  As co-founder of the Hip Hop Church, Kurtis serves as rapper, DJ and worship leader and now licensed Minister. 

Kurtis still rocks crowds worldwide, with his most recent world tour in the the Fall of 2016. He has also play in and produced TV and movies. Most recently, he associate produced The Get Down for Netflix and visited his friends at VICELAND for The Untitled Action Bronson Show.

Today, the pioneer is sharing his wisdom about the game.

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