Rap legend Kurtis Blow talks about God, modern hip-hop and turning 50
For those of you too young to remember Kurtis Blow, here‚Äôs a quick summary: godfather of rap.
Kurtis ‚ÄúBlow‚Äù Walker, best known for late-'70s and '80s hits The Breaks, Basketball and If I Ruled the World (which Nas sampled a decade later), was one of hip-hop‚Äôs pioneers.
‚ÄúI can recall being in the projects, and the older guys playing the music. Their biggest artist that they loved was Kurtis Blow at the time,‚Äù rapper Flo Rida told tbt* this week. ‚ÄúThey used to be mimicking his rhymes, playing inside the wash house ‚Äî the Laundromat ‚Äî banging on the laundry machines, singing his records.‚Äù
Blow was the first rapper signed to a major label, the first with a certified gold single, the first to tour internationally and the first to score an endorsement deal. Blow set the stage for acts like Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash and, while the music he describes as ‚Äúprogressive, funky disco‚Äù may seem unsophisticated by today‚Äôs standards, his career paved the way for today‚Äôs rap superstars.
"I actually think that the lyrical flows are faster and wittier and more complicated," Blow said this week by phone from a tour stop in Selma, Ala. "It‚Äôs a challenge for an old-schooler to keep up."
All these decades later, Blow, who turns 50 on Aug. 9, is still making records ‚Äî but with a higher calling. A born-again Christian and licensed nondenominational pastor, Minister Kurtis, as he‚Äôs now called, oversees hip-hop-themed churches in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and his native Harlem. He also fronts the holy hip-hop group Kurtis Blow and the Trinity. They criss-cross the country in a 12-passenger van, performing and speaking at churches.
On Sunday they‚Äôll be at Tampa‚Äôs Crossover Church. At the 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. services, he‚Äôll share his story and perform some of his new music. At 7 p.m. he‚Äôll do a longer set with new music and old hits. His son DJ Mark Anthony will be man the turntables. Free and open to all ages. The first 700 people will get a free Kurtis Blow CD. 7809 N Orleans Ave., Tampa, (813) 935-8887.
Click here to read Dalia Colon's interview with Kurtis Blow.
Photo: Getty Images.