In 1980, hip-hop found a charismatic orator who could comfortably represent the genre underneath its ever-expanding spotlight. Kurtis Blow, a young Harlem kid who studied communication in college was the perfect fit—handsome, squeaky-clean, and ready to represent the new-yet-growing landscape of rap. “The Breaks” was an early smash single that helped not only launch Blow’s career but also positioned rap as something that could be popularized beyond the fleeting trend it was originally perceived as.
“The Breaks” was the first Gold-certified rap song and peaked at No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100. VH1 subsequently ranked it as No. 10 on their list of Top Hip-Hop Songs and to this day, the single has sold half a million copies, a huge feat in the history of 12-inch singles.
The remainder of the album is carried by Kurtis, whose party raps were lively and kept the music going as a true-to-form MC (“Master of Ceremony”) does. Tracks like the sincere “Hard Times” were purposeful in their focus towards poorer, often neglected communities while “All I Want in This World (Is To Find That Girl)” was a slick nod at romantic raps by Kurtis.
Kurtis Blow stuck to his pioneering hustle, releasing almost an album per year through the early ‘80s. He also starred in commercials, was the first rapper ever to have a Gold record, and even recorded a duet with Bob Dylan later in his career. But this debut, the self-titled Kurtis Blow, was a major milestone in not only his career; it helped swing doors wide open for the commercialization of hip-hop, which would lead to radio dominance for decades thereafter.
1. "Rappin' Blow (Part 2)"
2. "The Breaks"
3. "Way Out West"
1. "Throughout Your Years"
2. "Hard Times"
3. "All I Want In This World (Is To Find That Girl)"
4. "Takin' Care of Business"