*Clap yo’ hands everybody, and everybody clap your hands. This is E.U.R. and we got Kurtis Blow and these are the breaks!
Ahh yes, the 80s! The good times and days of a bygone innocence. A time when Kurtis Blow was rocking the microphone and inspiring young men to follow suit and record raps as best they could.
We would turn headphones into microphones by dismantling them, any device that could record sound was a commodity and even the roughest, most nefarious characters on the block were breaking, popping and locking. But here’s a bit of Hip-Hop trivia we’re sure you weren’t aware of.
“I was looking at this interview sheet here, and I have to do like 4 interviews for ‘Way Back When’ and the first one says reporter, Lee Bailey,” said Blow. “And when I read it I got this feeling in my heart. It was a good feeling, like an adrenaline rush. Wow, I can’t believe it! Do you know that you’re the first one to interview Kurtis Blow back in 1980? You’re my first major interview set up by my record company and I’ll never for get it. It was for RadioScope. We’re still here, praise God!”
Kurtis Blow has always been a great guy to interview and seemingly a great guy to be around. The fact that he remembers an interview that took place over 30 years ago is evidence of a man with heart. Kurtis Blow is easily rap music’s first star, yet he never seemed to believe the hype. I recall meeting him several times as a youngster and the handshake and words of encouragement were always genuine. There were no cameras and no photo opps. Good luck trying to get that from a celebrity these days, especially when the cameras aren’t rolling.
“We had a code of ethics and I knew that this was going to be the first time the nation found out about rap,” Kurtis reflected with Lee Bailey recently. “The first interview and so forth. There was a sense of urgency to keep it clean, to keep it honorable. We had morals and ethics back then and that was because we knew we had to in order to make sure that Hip-Hop was accepted by the mainstream. There was a certain sacrifice that we had to go through and that was, for one, making sure that it was something that everyone could enjoy. We tried to make it fun, and wholesome because we knew that it was the only way that we would be accepted.”
Kurtis Blow as you may have gleaned from an earlier quote, is slated to appear on TV One’s “Way Back When.” The rapper tells EURweb.com that he feels the electricity and the energy of the show and it makes him reminisce along with the audience.
“This TV show captures the whole ethics of back then,” he explained. “We had fun. When Hip-Hop was fun it was just a great time. When Hip-Hop was fun we were out there making music and performing for these people and that was our job. It was to make sure that when you came to our show, when you leave you would be feeling good. That’s the job of the entertainer, to entertain not to motivate or inspire people to get violent!”
And what can we expect from Kurtis Blow’s on-air performance?
“We did a hot, hot performance of ‘The Breaks’ and ‘Basketball’ and it came off very well. I was happy. There was a studio audience and everybody was going crazy. I had the breakdancers our there, I was doing a little breakdancing myself. No, I didn’t break anything. I work out and remain in good shape.”
Though Blow’s career began in the 70s, he says he will be representing the 80s on “Way Black When” with host Niecy Nash.
“I started DJing, breakdancing and MCing in the 70s and I got my record deal in 1979 with ‘Christmas Rap.’ My career starts right there on the cusp, but I’m representing the 80s though. ‘The Breaks’ came out in 1980, ‘Basketball’ came out in 1985 so, yeah. I think it’s going to be a great show because of the overall vibe. You get the feeling of the 80s when we were doing our thing.”
As a child growing up in the 80s fun seemed to be ours for the taking, despite Reagan-nomics, the exploding crack epidemic, growing gang violence and the spectre of A.I.D.S. Children were creative, artistic, explorative and fly. This was, in large part, due to the influence of early rap. What’s going on these days?
“It definitely has changed,” said Blow. “I fly all around the country, I still do shows and I all hear is ‘Aww, man! I don’t like this new music, it sure has changed. All they do is curse and disrespect our women and the materialism stuff. Back then we knew that we had to keep it clean for it to be accepted. Now that it’s accepted there is no control. Everything is wide open. You can do whatever you want to do.
“When you approach someone they say ‘It’s freedom of speech,’ he continued. ‘We have the right to say whatever is on our minds.’ But for me, personally, it’s cool to tell it like it is. Cats today like to say ‘we’re keeping it real by communicating how we live today.’ But I believe we should be telling it like it should be.”
These are conversations that Blow is not only having with young rap artists he runs into on his everyday travels, he has had multiple content oriented conversations with his own progeny, Kurtis Blow, Jr.
“I have this debate with Kurtis Blow, Jr. all the time,” said the Elder. “He’s 25 and he’s a new school rapper. He’s been rapping for about 15 years now and he has this new mixtape CD out called ‘Californication’ and we have this conversation many, many, many days and nights. He’s a new school rapper and he’s a grown man. He has his opinions, the right to live his life how he wants to live his life and what he wants to rap. He’s not trying to murder anybody or anything like that, but he is a new school rapper.”
As a parent one can frown at the decision our children make, but we can’t make the decision for them. Blow tells EURweb.com that he is dealing with that very same dilemma.
“On the one hand I’m disappointed because as a parent you want your kids to listen to you and at least try to follow the road map that you laid out,” he explained. “But on the other hand I want him to be an individual. I want him to be his own man, and he is. I have to respect that. I’m proud that he has his own persona, his own characteristics. I want him to do the right thing, but then again what is the right thing? The right thing is my personal beliefs. His right thing may not be my right thing.”
Very interesting indeed. Especially since, from what I’ve heard, Kurtis Blow, Jr. is no “sucker M.C.” In other words, he ain’t half bad. Stay tuned!
We will continue our conversation with Kurtis Blow later this week when he discusses his marijuana bust at L.A.X. and more including his appearance on the Legends of Hip Hop Tour.