Q - 8/94, p.1183 Stars
- Good - "...Testimonial time for aging rapper Kurtis Blow, whose trail-blazing raps fired warning shots across the bows of the stagnant late '70s music scene..."
Personnel includes: Kurtis Blow (rap vocals, DMX synthesizer, timbales); Run-D.M.C. (rap vocals); Adam White (spoken vocals); Denzil Miller (guitar, keyboards); Danny Harris (guitar, synthesizer); John Tropea, Dean Swenson, J.B. Moore, Curtis Bedreau, Dean Bailin (guitar); Mark "Sugar Rico" Rivera (saxophone); Onaje Allan Gumbs, Don Blackman (piano); Robbie Kondor, Gerard Charles, Jeff Bova (synthesizer); T-Bone Wolk, Richard Pascual, Craig Short, Seth Glassman (bass); Jimmy Bralower, Alonzo "Go-Go" Robinson (drums); Jaime Delgado (congas, timbales); Sam Jacobs (percussion); Davey Dee, William Waring, Larry Smith, Wayne Garfield, Robert Ford (background vocals).
Producers include: Kurtis Blow, J.B. Moore, Robert Ford, Jr., Robert Reed.
Compilation producer: Harry Weinger.
Includes liner notes by Nelson George & Russell Simmons.
Digitally remastered by Gary Mayo (Polygram Studios).
Personnel: Dan Harris (guitar, synthesizer); Jaime Delgado (guitar, congas, bongos, timbales); Curtis Bedeau (guitar, background vocals); Eddie Martinez, Dean Bailin, Dean Swenson, J.B. Moore, John Tropea (guitar); Mark Rivera (saxophone); Rick Ulfick, Don Blackman, Onaje Allan Gumbs (piano); Denzil Miller (keyboards); Gerard Charles (synthesizer, background vocals); Sanford Ponder, Robbie Kondor (synthesizer); David Reeves (drums, programming); Alonzo Robinson, Trevor Gale, Jimmy Bralower (drums); Anthony Brown (congas); Brian Brake (cymbals); Sam Jacobs, Timothius Davis (percussion); Dennis "Fatz" Sterling (bells); Fonda Rae, Lucien George, William Waring, B-Fine, Wayne Garfield, Larry Green, Denise Morgan, Dave Harris, Cynthia Mizelle, Larry Smith , Lisa Fisher, Alyson Williams, Robert Ford, Jr., Audrey Wheeler (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Nelson George.
Unknown Contributor Role: Dennis "Fatz" Sterling.
With his funky, hooky beats and confident, distinct lyrics and flow, Kurtis Blow established himself as one of rap's earliest crossover artists, a fact which at times obscures his actual talent and innovation. THE BEST OF... offers a fair sampling of the output of a man who stood as one of the first public faces of hip-hop.
His two best-remembered hits are both present, of course: "The Breaks" stands decades later as arguably early rap's greatest participatory song, with its handclaps and chants and uncommonly groovy riff, and while "Basketball" inevitably dates itself both lyrically and by its light, bubblegum sound, there's sweetness in its simplicity. Blow's rhymes are generally simple but memorable, and the melodies are designed perfectly to hook the listener in. Statement songs such as "Hard Times," "Tough," "America," and "Starlife" (perhaps the first rap lament on the pitfalls of stardom) drive their respective points home. A forgotten classic lurks in 1986's "I'm Chillin'," featuring the Transformers theme and the sparsest and baddest lyrics on offer here. Kurtis Blow was the first popular MC of hip-hop and this collection offers ample evidence why.