When discussing the pioneers of rap music, Kurtis Blow often isn't mentioned as often as Grandmaster Flash, The Sugarhill Gang, and Run-DMC. This is unfortunate because he truly is one of the forefathers of hip-hop and unlike Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang, he was no one trick pony. Although many music fans may only know him for his now classic track "The Breaks", The Best of Kurtis Blow shows that he had much more to offer.
Nearly everything here is great and still sounds fresh today. Unlike much of the rap music back then and even today, Kurtis Blow, at least for most of his career, created his music with live musicians rather than solely relying on sampling and production. Although "The Breaks" is now a hip-hop classic, many of the tracks here such as "Tough", "Hard Times", "Party Time", and his highest charting hit "Basketball" are just as strong. Listening to the old school references on "Tough" and "Basketball" over 20 years after they were recorded are still a joy to hear. But while the lyrics are strong on all of these tracks, it's the music that puts these songs over the top whether it's the funky bass lines on "Hard Times" and "Tough", the heavy percussion on "Party Time" and the Midnight Star-soundalike "I'm Chillin" or the combination of both on "The Breaks." The excellent musicianship also shines on the more lightweight tracks "Daydreamin'" and "Starlife." Other excellent tracks here include "Christmas Rappin'", which uses the guitar line rather than the oft-used bass line of Chic's "Good Times", his duet with Run-DMC, "8 Million Stories", and "One-Two-Three (Main Street, Harlem, USA)." The tracks here are listed chronologically thus the weaker tracks are on the album's second half. But while these songs are less memorable musically and lyrically and rely more on stellar production, the tracks "America" and "If I Ruled The World" are also pretty decent. Simply put, if you love old school rap, The Best of Kurtis Blow should be in your music collection. Newer fans will appreciate this too as most of the songs here have aged well and the best tracks are great party songs. Highly recommended.