Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow - February 1st 80's Quest Song/Band of the Day

Growing up in New England in the 80’s the radio was pretty much dominated by classic rock stations.  There were some stations considered more “underground” that played more new wave/punk/alternative types of music; and mainstream radio played a mix of rock/pop/R&B.   My older sister had been in the Army.  She was stationed in the large multi-ethnic city of Washington D.C., and when she came home in the early 80’s she brought with her all kinds of albums I had never heard on the radio stations in New England before:  Millie Jackson, The Sugarhill Gang, Patrice Rushen, Rose Royce, and more.  The album that she brought home that caught my ear the most; however, was a bright yellow 12-inch single by Kurtis Blow called “The Breaks”.  I had never heard music like this before.  Turns out Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to be signed by a major label (Mercury) in 1979 with the release of his song “Christmas Rappin” which sold over 400,000 copies.  The second release, “The Breaks” sold over half a million copies.

Kurtis Blow (real name Kurt Walker) was born in Harlem in New York City.  In grade school he got his first experience DJ-ing at his mother’s parties.  He had a fake i.d. by the time he was 13 years-old and was sneaking into NYC clubs to check out what the DJ’s were doing.  He enrolled in Harlem’s High School of Music and Art in 1975, but was kicked out for selling marijuana, and was kicked out of his subsequent school for selling PCP.  The principal at that school recognized that Blow was an intelligent guy, and suggested that he test for his GED rather than be expelled from school.  Blow passed the test and went on to study at City College in New York.  While he was in high school Blow was DJ-ing under the name Kool DJ Kurt, and had begun mixing his own rhymes and rapping over the beats he was playing on his turntable. 

Blow’s 1979 deal with Mercury Records soon followed, along with the success of “The Breaks”.  Blow released ten albums over the next eleven years and also produced or worked with The Fat Boys, Run DMC, Full Force, Russell Simmons, and Wyclef Jean, among others. 

He also acted or did music in several films including “Cry of the City” and “Krush Groove”.  He participated in the anti-apartheid record “Sun City”.  In 1995 he became a radio DJ on Power 106 in Southern California, hosting an old school show on Sunday nights.  He also worked for Sirius Satellite Radio on the classic old school hip hop station Backspin 43.  In 2002 he performed for the troops in the Middle East in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. 

Blow had always prided himself on the fact that he has recorded over 200 hundred songs and has never used profanity in any one of them.  Over time Blow’s faith deepened and he attended ministry classes and became an ordained minister in August 2009.  He founded The Hip Hop Church, which incorporates his rapping into worship.  He continues to support a variety of causes and speaks out against racism and drug use.


Clap your hands, everybody
If you got what it takes
'Cause I'm Kurtis Blow and I want you to know
That these are the breaks

Breakes on a bus, brakes on a car
Breaks to make you a superstar
Breaks to win and breaks to lose
But these here breaks will rock your shoes
And these are the breaks
Break it up, break it up, break it up!

If your woman steps out with another man
(That's the breaks, that's the breaks)
And she runs off with him to Japan
And the IRS says they want to chat
And you can't explain why you claimed your cat
And Ma Bell sends you a whopping bill
With eighteen phone calls to Brzil
And you borrowed money from the mob
And yesterday you lost your job
Well, these are the breaks
Break it up, break it up, break it up

Throw your hands up in the sky
And wave 'em 'round from side to side
And if youdeserve a break tonight
Somebody say alright!
(All right) Say ho-oo!
(Ho-oo!) And you don't stop
Keep on, somebody scream!
(Owwwww!) Break down!

Breaks on a stage, breaks on a screen
Breaks to make your wallet lean
Breaks run cold and breaks run hot
Some folks got 'em and some have not
But these are the breaks
Break it up, break it up, break it up!
Break down!

To the girl in brown, stop messing around
(Break it up, break it up)
To the guy in blue, whatcha gonna do?
To the girl in green, don't be so mean
And the guy in red, say what I said
Break down!

Brakes on a plane, brakes on a train
Breaks to make you go insane
Breaks in love, breaks in war
But we got the breaks to get you on the floor
And these are the breaks
Break it up, break it up, break it up!
Break down! Yo!

Just do it, just do it, just do it, do it, do it!
Just do it, just do it, just do it, do it, do it!
Just do it, just do it, just do it, do it, do it!
Just do it, just do it, just do it, do it, do it!

You say last week you met the perfect guy
(That's the breaks, that's the breaks)
And he promised you the stars in the sky
He said his Cadilac was gold
But he didn't say it was ten years old
He tok you out to the Red Coach grill
But he forgot the cash and you paid the bill
And he told you the story of his life
But he forgot the part about...his wife! Huh! Huh!
Well, these are the breaks!
Break it up, break it up, break it up!
Break down!

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