The Washington Informer reports that hip-hop godfather Kurtis Blow underwent heart transplant surgery on Sunday in Los Angeles and is now recovering, according to his wife, Shirley Walker. “He is out of surgery,” she reported via text. “Keep the prayers and praises up. God does all things well.”
Kurtis, at 61 years old, had a history of heart problems. He suffered a heart attack in 2016 at a bus stop in LA. The rapper had collapsed during and was revived by LAPD officers who performed CPR on him and called paramedics. In 2019, he had surgery to repair an aortic artery. His recovery from that surgery was apparently disrupted by further problems, causing him to be rushed to the hospital for a second surgery.
Although the words “icon” and “legend” get tossed around a lot in hip-hop these days — maybe a little too much — Kurtis Blow is one rapper who certainly fits the bill. He was the first rapper to sign with a major record label in 1979, signing with Mercury and releasing the holiday staple, “Christmas Rappin’.” He followed up with “The Breaks,” another pivotal record in the development of the burgeoning movement, and helped launch the careers of Run-DMC and The Fat Boys, while his 1984 song “Basketball” was covered by Lil Bow Wow and he produced for some of the most popular and successful early hip-hop acts. Most recently, he was politically active in the 2020 presidential elections, encouraging fans to vote for Biden-Harris.