The Culture: Life, Death and Hip-Hop with The Legendary Kurtis Blow
Published on January 4, 2023
Kurtis Blow, a Hip Hop legend and pioneer, joins this episode of Church on The Block for an in-depth conversation about the origins of the culture. Hear his story, how he found God during the peak of his career, his advice to up-and-coming artists, the current state of the culture, his life-changing health scare, and his personal covenant with God.
Tune in Sunday mornings at 10 am est. for real talk about the Church, the streets, and Hip Hop only on Holy Culture Radio, Sirius XM, Channel 154. And be sure to follow our hosts, Pastor Phil, Pastah J and DJ Ruckus and join the conversation.
Kurtis Blow Interview: Transcription
Kurtis Blow: [00:00:00] All right, pastor Phil, it’s my pleasure and honor to be here today with you. You know how we do; you know, this is God’s team. That’s right. Right here we are, the servants, the soldiers, the warriors, however, you want to put it. We are God’s army, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to at least express ourselves to what God has done and the miracles that we have seen, and just the awesomeness of our father.
Pastor Phil: Amen. Amen. Well, Kurtis, man, I love you, and I appreciate you and am thankful for you being on the show with us so that folks can hear a little bit more of your story. Some folks know Kurtis from different things and different movies and the music and different interviews, but right now, here on this show, I know we got a little time with you. Share with folks, your journey from being one of the founders of hip hop and moving [00:01:00] Def Jam further and things within hip hop and how you blossomed and grew deeper in your faith with the Lord, man.
Kurtis Blow: Well, it really is a long story. I could talk about this for at least two hours, but, to make a long story short, I found God in my life. I guess it was when I was at the peak of my career, and I was just sitting around bored. You know, once you reach the mountain top, it’s like, you know, I got, I got a. enough drugs, enough sex, enough money in my life. It just made me greedy.
Pastor Phil: Wow.
Kurtis Blow: You know, the more I got, and the more I wanted, and so I sat down one night, I was like, man, is this what the top of the mountain looks like? Is, is. What [00:02:00] life is all about. And so I picked up the Bible and started reading the Bible.
And man, that’s what really changed my life. The fact that I found out I have an old soul. And I remember reading the Old Testament and you know, the first part of the Bible, which has a lot of stories. A lot of old school stories I remember seeing as a kid and how much I loved them.
Like, you know the robe and the 10 Commandments and Samson. I found out Samson is in the Bible. You know, so I was, I was amazed and intrigued reading all the stories that were in the Bible when I started reading, and then I got to the gospel. And, and, and Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, and how these stories told the stories in a [00:03:00] similar fashion about Jesus and how incredible Jesus was.
And when I learned about all the miracles and all the sermons, the preaching and teaching and the philosophy of Jesus Christ and how he was a healer of an amazing force and a power to be reckoned with. And so that was amazing to me. I just fell in love with the Bible. I started reading it every day.
I mean, it be became a mission for me to complete and read the whole Bible. And I did. I actually got to Revelations, and when I got to that, I, I don’t want to say I became hell scared, but , it’s more like, you know, I, I wanted to get myself together before Jesus comes back. And so that’s when I started going to [00:04:00] church.
I got saved in 1994 and at church on the way out in LA with pastor Jack Hayford, a legendary preacher. He was on TBN all the time. But just going to church, fellowshipping with other Christians, and learning about this spiritual walk and how God changed me.
I changed the way I walk, changed the way I talked, changed the way I write, you know. Many different things, and it was just a transformation for me that was so incredible. And so I actually got into a health scare in 2000 and 17. A long story short, I had four heart operations, and man, I can’t begin to tell you how God came forth. And I am [00:05:00] a walking, living, breathing testimony of the fact that God is still in the middle.
Pastor Phil: Amen. Cuz you got, you got a little pookie’s heart; now you got a brand new joint.
Kurtis Blow: So I, yeah, yeah. Out of those four or five operations, the last one was a full heart transplant.
So I am man, a living, breathing, walking testimony that, you know, the great physician is real. And God is able to do for you what God did for me. So I established a Covenant with God, which is like an agreement to, God. I said thank you for keeping me here and giving me a second chance at life, and I will promise I will preach and teach the gospel for the rest of my life. Yeah.
So that’s why I am a minister. Well, I was a minister in 2007. [00:06:00] Okay. And went back to college NAAC College, seminary school, and it was amazing just learning about God and really fellowshipping with the professors and the other teachers and students right there.
And it’s a whole new life. It’s a whole new brand, new start of a life, and it’s incredible.
Pastor Phil: Let me ask you, Curtis, what would you say to young MCs who love the Lord? Trying to find their way now you know, to, to rhyme in a way that is relevant, right? And yet, you know, biblically accurate, culturally sensitive?
What would you say to them now as a, as a brother who’s been on, you know, in, in both worlds, you know in, in, in the hip hop game?
Kurtis Blow: Well this is what I have experienced myself, and I just posted this last week on Instagram that my [00:07:00] scripture for rappers is coming out of the, the book of Proverbs, chapter 18 verse 21, Proverbs 18:21, which states that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it shall eat its fruit.
And what that is basically saying is that the, the tongue is really powerful. Your voice, what you say, is really so very powerful. Like I say, you know, we have verses like you, we have this saying called name it and claim it, you know, so what you say will come to pass.
So stay positive, speak positively, speak life. Speak. You know, my whole thing is I look at [00:08:00] life as life is the glass half full as opposed to many other people who look at the life as the glass half empty. And so we need always to stay positive, especially now more than ever since we are going through so many traumatic situations in life, from the pandemic to the injustices to many people from the criminal justice system to politics, to health and wellness, to women’s rights, to sustainability reparations, all these issues that we are talking about and facing right now, which are really life as being life that is upside down.
And so I want to encourage all the young rappers to stay positive. In this world of chaos, life is upside down. [00:09:00] So the only way we can ever enjoy and live your life to the abundance that you are supposed to is to find God in your life and just make a change. Make that change. The most important thing is that what you think and what you say and what you do should all be in harmony.
Pastor Phil: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we want to welcome Pastah J, who is on the mic with us as another co-host of Church on the Block. And yo, what’s up everybody?
Pastah J: Hey Kurtis. Good to see you, brother.
Kurtis Blow: Hey. Hey. All right, my man.
Pastor Phil: And I know Curtis, you got a little bit more time left. I wanna be sensitive to that. So.
So Curtis, the way things are in hip hop, you know today, do you see them like being the same as they were when you started? You know what I mean? Everybody thinks that, oh, this is new, this is different. But in light of whether it’s the attitude, whether it’s the style or what do you see that, the [00:10:00] culture of hip hop going right now?.
Kurtis Blow: Well for me, I, I see it hip hop, the culture has definitely changed throughout the years. We had our political moments with Public Enemy and yeah people like KRS-ONE and so forth and so on. And then we had our, our gangster rap moments with the West Coast. And now I see a change to what they call drill rap a new form of gangster rap, but it actually involves violence and murder and something that I was against from the very beginning, you know, the fact that we are hip hopers and the culture was created out of the to do something different other than being a gang.
Cause we all were in gangs during those days and [00:11:00] the seventies back in New York. And so we used hip hop as escapism from all of the trouble that we could get in from poverty to robbing, stealing, violence against these other gang wars. I mean, it was our savior. A lot of people, people can say hip hop saved my life, but now it’s like, it’s the opposite.
So the emcee is supposed to uplift the community, but now it seems like the emcees and rappers are tearing down the community. So I don’t want to jump out there and alienate myself to any of the young people out there because I love them, and the future is theirs. Our hip-hop culture is the number one stream music [00:12:00] genre in the whole world.
And we live in a hip-hop generation. We live in a hip-hop nation, and the vocalists, the communicators, and the orators have the power. We are the voice of the people. So the people are hurting right now. So this is the language, language, and communication you are experiencing now.
So there has to be a way where we can change it and get back to trying to uplift each other and support each other and love on each other. Yeah. Yeah. Right now, I don’t see that happening.