The Hip Hop Nutcracker “turns Tchaikovsky on his head within the coolest attainable approach.”
The reimagining of the Russian classical composer’s 130-year-old ballet set in modern New York Metropolis has been residing as much as that promotional promise for the final 10 years. Now a vacation custom in its personal proper, the dance extravaganza is at the moment within the midst of a 30-city tour. And there for every beat, however a coronary heart transplant in December 2020, has been the present’s particular visitor MC and certainly one of rap’s founding fathers, Kurtis Blow.
“I used to be all the time a fan and supporter of the fusion of hip-hop with different genres of music,” says Blow, recalling the primary time he watched a present rehearsal in 2013. “I noticed these younger b-boys and b-girls simply doing their factor, representing with all of the kinds from popping and locking to electrical boogaloo; kicks, head spins, again spins, windmills, air twists — and doing so to Tchaikovsky’s unbelievable classical music with hip-hop beats beneath it. I mentioned, ‘Oh my God, I’ve received to be part of this.’”
The trailblazing artist identified for classics reminiscent of “Christmas Rappin’,” “The Breaks” and “Occasion Time,” a fusion of rap and go-go, Blow was the primary rapper to be signed to a serious label (Mercury Information) in 1979, amongst different accolades. This previous summer season, Blow and fellow hip- hop legends, Chuck D and KRS-One based the Hip Hop Alliance, the primary ever union for hip-hop and R&B artists and the workforce that helps them.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker will wrap its tenth season in Hartford, Conn., on New 12 months’s Eve. The rest of the tour can be devoted to the late Stephen “tWitch” Boss, freestyle hip-hop dancer/choreographer and The Ellen DeGeneres Present co-host/co-exec producer. “We wish to acknowledge the passing of certainly one of our Nutcracker members of the family,” Blow says of Boss, who was a part of Disney’s model of the present, now streaming on Disney+.
Throughout a cellphone interview through the tour’s New York cease, Blow mirrored on why The Hip Hop Nutcracker nonetheless resonates, life after his coronary heart transplant, and hip-hop’s monumental fiftieth anniversary in 2023.
For individuals who haven’t seen the present, what does your function entail?
I get everybody ready for what they’re about to see by first taking them again with a medley of old-fashioned hip-hop songs as a result of the present begins out in 1980 on New 12 months’s Eve. On the finish of the intro, I sing a tune known as “New 12 months’s Eve” and in the midst of that, I’ve everybody depend down from 10 to at least one. Once we get to at least one, we scream Joyful New 12 months as loud as we will. Then the present begins. On the finish I come again and do “The Breaks” with the entire forged. These proficient dancers from all around the world give 150% each evening. Audiences come to the present — whose theme is love conquers all — and go away revitalized. I’m seeing generations from grandparents to their grandchildren and their daughters and sons. That’s what hip-hop is about too: all races, all ages.
What has your life been like because the transplant?
I’m a strolling, residing, respiratory testimony that God remains to be within the miracle enterprise. What God did for me, God is ready to do it for you and everybody else. It is a large a part of my religion as a result of I’m a preacher as effectively. Waking up the subsequent morning after the operation, seeing the medical doctors and nurses and getting a thumbs up … I nonetheless get that pleasure each morning once I get up. I thank God that I’m nonetheless alive — and so grateful to be part of this chance to unfold love through the vacation season.
Which is one thing you first did within the late ‘70s with “Christmas Rappin’.”
I feel it was 1978. Billboard included me, a younger faculty pupil, within the final part of an interview about this new factor known as rap. I’ll always remember it as a result of throughout that point, there have been different extra in style MCs like DJ Hollywood, Eddie Cheeba, Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa. However that article turned the premise of my credibility, and I feel it was not directly part of me getting my report take care of Mercury. Robert Ford Jr. wrote that article. Later, he and J.B. Moore, who additionally labored for Billboard, produced my first gold single, “Christmas Rappin’”. I owe Billboard and simply wish to say thanks!
What does the style’s upcoming fiftieth anniversary imply to you?
I began break dancing in 1972, turned a DJ in ’73, and began rapping in ’74. I’ve witnessed this tradition rise from the ashes of the ghettos of the Bronx, Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn. It was out of that cultural trauma that hip-hop was created; it was escapism within the music. Now it’s been round for 50 years and it’s nonetheless highly effective — the No. 1-streamed style on this planet. Everybody across the globe is tuning in to take heed to what hip-hop has to say. We positively modified the world. And we now have the chance to do it once more. My message to all of the younger folks out there’s: We did it, and now the world is yours. The long run is yours. You’ve gotten the chance to construct up your households, construct up your communities and construct up humanity.