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Community Advocacy Organization

Kurtis Blow-American Rapper and Hip-Hop Icon

The Chronicle News Celebrates 50 Years of HipHop

Courtesy Photo-Kurtis Blow


Kurtis Walker, better known professionally known by his stage name Kurtis Blow.

He is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record/film producer, b-boy, DJ, public speaker and minister. He is also one of the founders and creators of recorded rap. His music is timeless, and he is a living hip-hop legend.


Kurtis blazed the trail for early hip hop artists and continues to carry the torch for hip hop music in new arenas. Kurtis is credited with many accolades and was the first rapper to ever be signed to a major label, release a certified gold rap album (The Breaks) tour the United States and Europe, record a national commercial (Sprite), use the drum machine, sample and sample loop, release a rap music video and become a millionaire.


In 1979, at the age of 20, Kurtis Blow became the first rapper to be signed by a major label. He released 'Christmas Rappin’, which sold over 400,000 copies and became an annual classic. Its gold follow-up, The Breaks, helped ignite an international “rap attack,” solidifying the new art form. He released 10 albums over 11 years, and his early projects made him an instant success at home and across Europe.


Pioneering records like Party Time introduced the fusion of rap and go-go. Hit songs like “8 million Stories”, “AJ”, and “Basketball” were simply ahead of their time, and still get spins by DJs today. Fellow rap legend Nas debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts with a cover of Kurtis’ “If I Ruled the World” in 1997.


Beyond his own hits, Kurtis contributed to the success of The Fat Boys and Run DMC. In fact, Run began his career billed as “The Son of Kurtis Blow.” Among countless others, Wyclef Jean, Love Bug Starski, Sweet Gee, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Full Force, and Russell Simmons, all have been produced by or have worked with Kurtis in the past.


Kurtis’ multidisciplinary skillset has taken him across the country and overseas to score, produce, and act in various films. Most notably, he played a large role in the production of the hit film Krush Groove. The New York Daily News called his cinematic works a “noteworthy, dynamic presence.” Kurtis Blow’s reach transcends that of your typical entertainer. He has completed multiple world tours since the turn of the new millennium and continues to work on other creative endeavors.


His innate ability to reach people is evident in his work as an activist, radio personality, and most recently, an ordained minister and leader of the Hip Hop Church. Artists still pay their respects to Kurtis’ trailblazing in a number of ways. His influence has been mentioned in seemingly every important Hip-Hop film in the past decade, from Get Rich or Die Tryin’ to Notorious and Straight Outta Compton.


Kurtis has a prominent presence on Television. His music appears on shows such as Dancing with The Stars, and SportsCenter. He is also an associate producer on the Netflix hit series 'The Get Down'.


In June 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed the Hip-Hop pioneer to the new Nightlife Advisory Board where Kurtis will advocate on behalf of music venues and clubs, continuing to shape the influence the industry - this time at a policy level!

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