Few artists can boast as many first as Kurtis Blow. Undoubtedly a pivotal pioneer in the dominance of hip hop, Blow’s song ‘The Breaks’ is rightly recognised as one of the first rap songs to truly break down barriers, becoming the first of its kind to break 500,000 copies sold and go gold. But, Blow can also boast of having the first-ever major-label rap song.
That song isn’t necessarily a hard-hitting re-telling of the world around him but, instead, a novelty-adjacent Christmas anthem titled, ‘Christmas Rappin”. A clever play on words, The Waitresses would have a mega-hit a few years later using Blow’s song to play off of. However, it was Blow who laid down those foundational stones first.
The track was released on December 7th, 1979, and is widely regarded as one of the first rap songs to truly make a dent in popular culture. Blow recorded the track with the help of producers J.B. Moore and Robert Ford. With Blow’s blessing, the duo took the track to Mercury Records and got the green light to release the song, as well as signing Blow up to a contract for a two-single deal.
‘Christmas Rappin” wasn’t just the first song to be released by a major label; it also showed the labels around the country that rap was not only cool and accessible but profitable. The first single of Blow’s deal was a landmark moment; it sold a whopping 400,000 copies, topped only by his second single on the deal, ‘The Breaks’.
Speaking with Songfacts, Blow recalled: “J.B. Moore wrote the first half of the song, the Christmas part. I did all of the party part, the second half of the song. I wrote all of that on a train ride down to the studio around Christmas time.”
Whether you think the track is one of the first footsteps on the journey to hip hop’s current impressive plane, or you think it’s just a Holiday song to be played and forgotten as soon as the needle lifts, it’s hard not to get swept up in the joy of the track. The fact that Blow wrote it on the train to the studio is just the icing on the Christmas cake.
Listen below to Kurtis Blow’s ‘Christmas Rappin”, the first hip hop song to be released on a major label.