MUSI 2520 Lecture Notes - Russell Simmons, Campus Radio, Block Party

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Published on 5 Feb 2013
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Lecture 1:
Given recognition for being good looking, charming; girls went crazy over him
Born in Harlem in 1959
Started as a break dancer, then a block party DJ, then a club DJ
o Had a college education; went to city college (program director for a college radio
station)
o He later turned into an MC in 1977
o Sometimes Kurtis blow was the unofficial 6th member of grandmaster flash and the
furious five starting 1977 (he got famous)
First commercially successful solo rap artist
First sign rapper to sign with a major label; Mercury
In terms of hip hop being at a pre-touring stage, the first artist able to embark on an national
and international tour was Kurtis Blow
First rapper to have a certified gold record after rappers delight is Kurtis Blow (The Breaks)
o Top 5 in r&b charts 1980
Got opening artist gigs (very rare cases) for the commodores/bob marley
First rapper to sign an endorsement deal (The deal was with Sprite in 1985)
By the time he made albums, most of the original rappers in his field had only released one
songs
Barely any professional managers in the industry at this time
Russell Simmons before he became famous/rich was a promoter, handing out flyers/posters
because of Simmons, Kurtis Blow was already somewhat of an underground sensation
Russell Simmons managed kurtis & he brought also his little brother named joseph (age 13) who
became red run; part of run dmc
Red Run was a DJ, travelled for 7 months with blow, Simmons,
Christmas rappin’: 1979: disco still in the air kind of, rap is breaking out (rappers delight already
out) kind of rap, but similar to disco also; co-written by robert port (aka rocky); writer named
rocky who was white with the new york times who was asked to go to the bronx and come up
with a story on hip hop. physically had to go around the bronx and eventually found russell
Simmons. suggested that Simmons make a record. gave them the idea to commercialize
rapping was very innocent, light, friendly rapping in 1979 (only entertainment value)
high accent/low accent problem, (common rapping problem)
second single; first certified gold record
taught the art of articulating as you speak in school (vocal coaching, producing)
released nearly 10 albums (records) between 1980 and 1988
most of the records were garbage; production team/himself were missing it (concept of rap)
became a DJ in LA, went on to produce the fat boy and some run DMC, essentially paved the
way
his rapping technique did not evolve and eventually fell off the rap game
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