Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC is an all time Holiday Classic by anyone’s standards but before they recorded their take on the holidays another MC had already broken that ground in spectacular fashion some 8 years earlier. His name was Kurtis Blow and he dropped Christmas Rappin for Mercury Records way back in the year of 1979.
Kurtis Blow was the first MC signed by a major label and his debut tune Christmas Rappin’ was one of the first hip hop singles ever released by a major record company.
Christmas Rappin went on to sell 400,000 copies over the next 8 years making it one of, if not the top-selling disc of the era. The sales records for hip-hop’s early days are spotty but 400,000 sounds to me like a sales success in any time period.
Of course the sales were helped along by the novelty aspect of a rappin’ christmas song. Christmas Rappin was in itself a wild idea because the very idea of a rap song was in itself kind of a novelty so if you combine that with an already popular musical genre like Christmas you could potentially have a double novelty whammy-jammy of sales on your hands.
Kurtis Blow, real name Kurt Walker was born in 1959 and is best known for his song The Breaks which has the distinction of being Hip-Hop’s first gold single.
Kurtis Blow approached Mercury Records with his first two songs, Christmas Rappin and The Breaks already completed. Mercury agreed to release the two songs and to sign him to a contract for an LP if the two songs sold well. As we know they moved very well and Blow signed and recorded his LP The self titled Kurtis Blow for Mercury Sept 29th 1980.
Here is A bit of trivia about Kurtis Blow, Run of Run DMC was managed by his older brother Russell Simmons who was also Kurtis Blow’s manager at the time. Russell’s first idea for the two was to pair them up together as a group and to promote Run as DJ RUN: Kurtis Blows’ Son.. I think the Run-DMC idea he came up with later is a better one but a Kurtis Blow-DJ Run group is very intriguing to think about.