Rap Legend Kurtis Blow Visits Berklee Classes

By 
Margot Edwards
April 3, 2018
Press release
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Rap pioneer Kurtis Blow
Public Enemy songwriter and producer Hank Shocklee, Kurtis Blow, and Prince Charles Alexander.
Blow and Alexander during a panel discussion on Blow's career.
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson

Rap legend Kurtis Blow, one of the founders of hip-hop, visited Berklee on March 28 for a discussion about his career, moderated by Grammy-winning engineer Prince Charles Alexanderprofessor of music production and engineering (MP&E). Blow also spoke to students in several MP&E, songwriting, and ensemble classes during the week, including Hip-Hop Production taught by Alexander, and Turntable Technique, Hip-Hop Songwriting, and Beat Making taught by Brian "Raydar" Ellis, assistant professor of songwriting.  

Blow, who has been lighting up stages since 1979, spoke to Alexander about his many "firsts" in rap, including being the first rapper to sign to a major label; the first to use a sample loop; the first to earn a gold record, with the song “The Breaks”; and the first to make a music video, for the song “Basketball.”

After touching on many of his career highlights, Blow took questions from the students. He emphasized the importance of getting a team behind you and using the opportunity to build networks while at Berklee. “Once you leave here, you have a calling card,” said Blow. “People usually support you when you have goals and dreams and aspirations. All doors will open.”

Blow’s self-titled debut album helped ignite a movement that now dominates popular culture. He subsequently released 10 albums in 11 years. In addition to producing several of his own albums, he also produced or mixed for other artists, including Run-D.M.C., the Fat Boys, and the Krush Groove soundtrack. He still rocks crowds worldwide, including his most recent world tour in 2016. Blow has also produced music for television shows and movies and was an associate producer on the Netflix original series The Get Down.