For a moment there, it seemed like “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” playing this Saturday at DPAC, wouldn’t have its star MC, rap legend Kurtis Blow.
Just two days before Halloween, reports surfaced that Blow had a heart attack at a bus stop near his home in Woodland Hills, Calif.
“I did not have a heart attack,” clarifies the man himself, 57, sounding rested and lively on the phone. “I went into cardiac arrest. It’s a little different. My heart stopped, no pulse, for about five minutes. Thank God for my son being there. I just passed out from an accumulation of things: being run-down on the road, being in Europe for about 11 days – I did seven shows in 11 days, came back to find out one of my best friends had passed away, no sleep. But low potassium is a big issue there, along with a couple of other things.”
Reports also claimed that before Blow (real name: Kurt Walker) passed out, he was having an argument with his son that the police had to break up. While Blow will neither confirm nor deny this, he will say his son was instrumental in bringing him back. “My son was there and convinced the police to revive me with CPR until the ambulance came,” he remembers. “Praise God for the police and the doctors. ... It’s just a blessing and I’m a walking miracle of the God that we serve.”
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Well, it certainly sounds like the Harlem native is well and healthy enough to get back to doing this show, which he says is in its third year of touring.
“We first started in New York and New Jersey,” he says. “The next year – boom! – we did about 25 shows. They went over to Russia and, actually, the original place where Tchaikovsky is from – the play comes from, you know, Russia. And, so, to play Moscow was big, big, big, huge for the play. It’s just awesome that, you know, the classic play that it is that we see every New Year’s and every Christmas holiday that’s been going on since Lord knows when – the 18th century – has now flipped into a new version using hip-hop, actually taking hip-hop to another level at the same time. The fusion is incredible.” (By the way, “The Nutcracker” debuted in 1892, but dude was close.)
But what exactly does Blow do as the special-guest MC?
“I come out first in the intro and just welcome everybody and sing a couple of songs – take ’em back to the old school,” he says. “And, then, I sing a song that’s specially designed for the play. ... The play starts out on New Year’s Eve, so I sing this New Year’s Eve song. And at the end of the song, we count down from 10 to one and everybody screams and, then, we start the play.” Blow comes back at the end and does a rendition of “The Breaks,” one of his classic hits.
It makes perfect sense for Blow to be a part of this production. After all, Blow is one of the first MCs to rap about the holiday season, with his 1979 Yuletide fave “Christmas Rappin’.” Recently, he dropped another holiday-themed jam, titled “KB Christmas Delight,” which can be found on the new compilation “Hip-Hop & R&B Christmas Gold.”
“I’m rapping about that same sort of thing back in the day, about Christmas and Christmas Eve and there’s a party,” he says, “But this party has the new rappers and pop stars of today, like Jay-Z and Beyonce are coming through and people like that.”
Well, after a brief setback, it’s nice knowing that Kurtis Blow is still around, ready to deck the halls with his legendary flow and make sure everyone has a Happy Hip-Hop Holidays!
What: “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” with special guest MC Kurtis Blow
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham
Cost: Sold out
Details: 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com