Born in Harlem on August 9, 1959, Kurtis Blow grew up to become one of the most influential people in early Hip Hop music. From starring in the groundbreaking Krush Groove to producing and rapping, Kurtis has done it all in his musical genre.
Kurtis attended City College of New York, starting in the fall of 1976. At City College, he studied vocal performance, and was a programming director for the college's radio station. During his time in college, Blow was getting caught up in the budding hip hop scene. He began DJing and mixing records, when he ran into a concert promoter by the name of Russell Simmons. Simmons convinced Kurtis to change his stage name, from Kool DJ Kurt to Kurtis Blow. Also through Simmons, as well as his own DJing, Blow became good friends with artists like Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash.
After college, Blow took on Russel Simmons as a manager, with Simmons' younger brother, Joey Simmons, as his dj. Later, Joey Simmons would choose his own stage name, Run. However, Kurtis Blow's first track released on a major label would not have much input from either the future rapper, nor the future music mogul. Christmas Rapping, Blow's first single, was written with the help of Billboard columnist Rocky Ford. The song was a little novelty jingle for the season, but it was good enough to get people to notice Kurtis and his skills. Atleast for a short time. It was soon eclipsed by the quintessential rap-classic, Rapper's Delight.
Blow's first album would not be outshined. He released a track called The Breaks off of his self-titled debut. The Breaks helped push Hip-Hop out from the slums of New York City, into the minds of people all over the United States. This was followed by Hard Times one of the first politically motived raps. Hard Times was later covered by RUN-DMC on their first album.
Shortly after this, Blow hooked up with three hefty rappers calling themselves The Disco Three. Blow worked on some productions for them, however when they were recording, The Disco Three decided to change their name to the highly appropriate, The Fat Boys.
Blow's career slowed down a bit in 81 and 82. However, 1983 would almost go down as the year of Kurtis Blow. He dropped the follow up to his self-titled, called the Party Time EP. Party Time sold well on it's own, but received another big jump in sales with the release of Hip Hop's first movie, Krush Groove. While Groove was not known for it's acting, nor screenplay, it was known for the music, especially Blow's performance of If I Ruled The World.
Kurtis Blow, along with the help of Dexter King, organized the all-star King Dream Chorus and Holiday crew. A varitable who's who of old school hip hop, the dream chorus wrote a tribute to Dexter's father, Martin Luther King Jr. entitled King Holiday. The Dream Chorus consisted of Blow, along with RUN-DMC, Whodini, Melle Mel, and The Fat Boys. The track was a tribute to the civil rights leader, as well as a push to make his birthday the national holiday that it is today.
After the Dream Chorus, Kurtis Blow's musical career would never reach the same heights again. Newer rappers, like LL Cool J and RUN-DMC had taken over the radio waves and the clubs. The man who once opened for Bob Marley, and had done collaborations with Bob Dylan and George Clinton was no longer selling records. This does not mean that Blow finished writing raps. He wrote some rap segments for the soap opera One Life to Live in 1991 and 1992. Blow was also one of the first rappers to commercialize off of his fame, doing some spots for the limon flavored beverage, Sprite, in 1986. While Kurtis Blow won't be heard much on the radio today, save for maybe some old school flashback cuts, his impact on rap, and the music industry in general is still being felt.
RollingStone.com - Kurtis Blow Biography, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=6485&cf=6485
Kurtis Blow Presents: The History Of Rap, Vol. 1:
The Genesis - http://www.rhino.com/Features/liners/72851lin.html
VH1.com : Artists : A-Z : Kurtis Blow : Biography - http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/blow_kurtis/bio.jhtml
KURTIS BLOW - Biography - http://www.oldschoolhiphop.com/artists/emcees/kurtisblow.htm