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In 1979, Kurtis Blow signed a deal with Mercury Records, making him the first rapper signed by a major label. His first album sold more than 400,000 copies.
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In 1975, Kurtis Blow enrolled in Harlem's High School of Music and Art, but was kicked out for selling marijuana. He transferred to another high school, where he was soon caught selling the psychedelic drug PCP. Recognizing Blow's intelligence, the dean gave Blow the chance to test for his General Equivalency Degree as an alternative to expulsion. Blow passed, and went on to study at New York's City College.
In 1979, Blow signed a deal with Mercury Records, making him the first rapper signed by a major label. His album Christmas Rappin' sold more than 400,000 copies. His follow-up album, The Breaks, went gold, led by its iconic title track: "Brakes on a bus, brakes on a car, breaks to make you a superstar." America, featuring the song "If I Ruled the World." The song cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard charts on first release, and returned (in sample form) a decade later when Nas's version debuted at No. 1. Blow also produced albums for artists like The Fat Boys, Run-D.M.C., Russell Simmons and Wyclef Jean. His influence on hip-hop was so profound that rapper Run of the seminal trio Run-D.M.C. initially called himself the "Son of Kurtis Blow" when just starting his career.
As his rap career progressed, Blow - a devout Christian - made a commitment to himself to keep his lyrics family-friendly. "I've recorded over two hundred songs and I have never used a profanity and I always thought that was just me trying to have some dignity, some integrity," Blow said.
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