In Monday’s 80’s Mania post, I referenced the song “Christmas In Hollis,” which may be viewed by many to be the first hip-hop/rap Christmas song. However, eight years before, there was a Christmas rap record released. It was also historic, as it was the first rap record released on a major label (Mercury Records). That’s an important distinction—”Rappers Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang was the first hit rap record, released a few months prior to today’s song, but it was on an independent label (Sugarhill Records). In fact, many of the rap records from that early era were on independent labels.
That major label pioneering song was “Christmas Rappin'” (aka “Rappin’ Blow”) by Kurtis Blow, and it’s today’s Morning Groove.
Born Kurtis Walker in Harlem, he started out as a DJ and eventually got into rapping. By 1979 he had become the first rapper signed by a major label. “Christmas Rappin'” became his debut single. Without the benefit of any chart action, the song sold over 500,000 copies. In later years, the song has been broken into two parts: the beginning section retains the title “Christmas Rappin'”, while the concluding section is better known as “Rappin’ Blow.” When the single was originally released on 12″ vinyl, it only had the single title of “Christmas Rappin’.” Even as today’s song made history, it was his second single that really put Blow on the map. When “The Breaks” was released in 1980, it became the first rap song released on a major label to make the R&B top ten (it peaked at #4).
Blow is revered as one of hip-hop music’s pioneers. He had a hand in working with Run-DMC (in fact, Run from the group used the name Son of Kurtis Blow before he became the name we now know him by), and the Fat Boys. He was one of the first rappers to fuse rap with Washington DC’s go-go music on the song “Party Time.” He also appeared in the movie Krush Groove and is also known for his rap hit “Basketball.” Today Blow is an ordained minister, though he recently suffered a heart attack and is recuperating in California. I’m sending best wishes for a speedy recovery for one of the early legends of rap.
Here’s another unconventional Christmas song for you to enjoy. Thanks again for reading and listening.