The year was 1976. A young man named Curtis Walker (born August 9, 1959) hooked up with a group of party promoters who called themselves The Force. Among that group was a rather aggressive and bold member named Russell Simmons. The group sponsored parties in Harlem until 1977 when Russell, or Rush as he came to be known, moved the group to Queens.
Kool DJ Kurt as he was known at the time was renamed to Kurtis Blow and, along with Rush’s promotion, began selling himself as “the #1 rapper in Queens.” At a time when rap was still being discovered by many new listeners, Kurtis carried a lot of influence over the youth at the time. Russell’s 14 year old brother Joseph was no exception. He joined Kurtis as his deejay calling himself “DJ Run, the Son of Kurtis Blow.” Wonder whatever happened to that kid?
In 1978-79 he worked the Disco Fever with none other than Grandmaster Flash.
Later on he utilized the deejay and production skills of Davy DMX.
A Billboard reporter named Robert Ford made contact with the duo giving them press in the magazine. And although Ford had hoped to eventually make a record with one of the other groups around at the time, Rush convinced him that the young stylish Kurtis Blow was ready to hit the studio. Another man named J.B. Moore (who is characterized in a different light in the film Krush Groove) put up the cash for the recording.
While the group was in the studio recording what would be the first single, “Christmas Rappin” or “Rappin Blow” as it is sometimes called, another single swept the country- “Rapper’s Delight.”
Despite the success of the single, no major label wanted anything to do with “Christmas Rappin’” assuming rap was a one hit wonder. Finally, an A&R man from Mercury heard the song and signed Kurtis Blow, who became the first rapper ever signed to a major label.
The next song recorded was “The Breaks” which is still recognizable to many today.
He went on to record one of the first political raps “Hard Times” which would later be covered by Run DMC on their first album.
Around this time he befriended a group called The Disco Three and helped them secure a deal of their own. They went on to record as The Fat Boys.
He also went on to star in Krush Groove including a memorable live concert scene where he performed “If I Ruled the World.” He indeed looked like the King of Rap in that performance.
In 1986, he and Dexter King, son of civil rights slain leader Martin Luther King Jr., put together a single titled, “King’s Holiday” in observance for the holiday by The King’s Holiday All Star Chorus which featured Run-D.M.C., Whodini, Grandmaster Melle Mel, and The Fat Boys.
He appeared in the documentary film The Show.
Kurtis Blow appears on a cd by LEN called “You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush in 1999 on a track called “Cold Chillin’”.
Though no longer recording new material Kurtis still tours the world and has become a highly influential behind the scenes player in the world of Hip Hop. He assembled a three disc collection called “Kurtis Blow Presents The History of Rap.” Not only is it a great collection, but Kurt’s liner notes are the shining star of the project.
He is also compiling a film documenting the history of hip hop.
Watch Kurtis perform”The Breaks” in 1997
Additional info submitted by Simon and TMGanalog