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Now rapping "Basketball", Number 1, Kurtis Blow . . .
December 12, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Kurtis Blow's "Basketball", 30 years later. A cagey look back at the hardest of hard odes to roundball.
posted by yerfatma (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Cheech and Chong's "Basketball Jones", 40 years later.

(OK that was 35 years later, but whatever)
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2013


There's a special place in hell for Kurtis (or his producer) for this hook. My local NBA affiliate loves dragging this out when they roll the peewee full-court exhibitions during halftime. Just the hook. Basketballlllll, they're playing basketballllll. Aiike.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

To the hoop, y'all!
posted by DigDoug at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2013

my eyes
posted by andreaazure at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2013

G. Love baby
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2013

Somebody really should call a technical foul on that guy with the nunchucks.
posted by Flunkie at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're free to come and go, or talk like Kurtis Blow, but there's a pair of eyes in back of your head, where your eyes don't go. A filthy scarecrow waves its broomstick arms and does a parody of each unconscious thing you do. When you turn around to look, it's gone behind you. On it's face, it's wearing your confused expression.
posted by straight at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

I met Kurtis Blow once. He was doing a show in Chicago almost 10 years ago. The club was filled with 21 year olds who prolly had no idea who he was. I was an experiences 26.

He was wearing a leather jacket and no shirt, so of course I went to him and asked him:

"Hey Kurtis, why do you wear your jacket without a shirt?"

I don't know if he's a fan of NWA or Eazy-E...but he says:

"For easy access, baby!"

That was it. It basically told me, 'you wanna sing songs with Kurtis Blow, you can do it right now'.

I asked 'come on Kurtis, mess with someone who liked you since he was a kid...sing with me'

For about 10 minutes he entertained me by yelling out 'BASS' while I was doing the music from 'White Lines'.

All of these people were just sitting and watching, thinking "what a bunch of dorks". My cousins came and took me away when I said to him "'re in support of labor unions, right?"

As they were taking me out, in my 'fragile' state, they asked me why I was singing white lines with him. I told them that I wanted to hear some of his classics.

That's when I was reminded that Grandmaster Flash does that song...and I was embarrassed as hell. It was like asking Mariah Carey to sing 'my heart will go on'.

Nobody let me apologize to him...and as I was being dragged out...I heard Kurtis again yelling out as loud as he could:

Vision dreams of passion.

The whole car ride back I talked about making an album with him, going on tour, being big in japan...but most importantly:

Dang dang diggity dangy dang!

That dude is so awesome.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:35 AM on December 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

I get that this song is a compilation stalwart, and looked to as a moment where hip hop began to penetrate mainstream consciousness, but man is it ever a pedestrian tune.
posted by planetesimal at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2013

Heh, the video's director was named Oblowitz.
posted by planetesimal at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2013

I have never heard that song before, and it's OK if I never hear it again.

Basketball Jones, on the other hand, is art.
posted by cccorlew at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2013

Oh man, this SONG. I remember discovering the record in my college radio station in 1999 or so; it instantly became one of my favorites. I grew up in a suburb where rap like this was ....not well-known or respected, and it fucking blew my mind. I never knew it was so popular. Probably explains why the old people at the station thought I was crazy to like it so much (it was the kind of place where admitting you liked popular music was akin to suicide). Great article, and thanks for the surreal video too.
posted by holyrood at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2013

man is it ever a pedestrian tune.

Totally. But for a white kid growing up in Rhode Island around 1983, it was part of Something Very Different. Still gets stuck in my head on a quarterly basis.
posted by yerfatma at 2:58 PM on December 12, 2013

OK, so I was in the studio assisting when they recorded this thing. I haven't listened to it since then, not even just now. Memories: The bass drum is actually the sound of a basketball bouncing on the studio floor. Linn would burn chips of custom sounds, and then you could open up the LinnDrum, pop out the stock chip, and pop in the custom chip. Producers JB Moore and Robert Ford contributed names of basketball players that KB didn't know - I recall "The Rucker". The ladies who contributed background vocals were pretty talented, unlike their counterparts on other records in that style that I worked on. A session player brought in a Fairlight to simulate scratching on the cut called "AJ Scratch" on the same album. There was also a strange synthesizer on that album, don't remember at the moment what it was called, but it was exotic. Moore told me "AJ Scratch" would be hit. I didn't believe it, the whole thing seemed so inane and AJ seemed so incompetent having his parts played on a Fairlight, but weeks later, wouldn't you know, I heard it blasting out of boom boxes all over New York. Among KB's entourage was a musical group called Full Force that went on to score a few hits. Russell Simmons was around much of the time, not sure why. I remember him talking about rappers with KB. He said, "That sh*t is whack!", clearly not liking that sh*t. I'd never heard the term before and would have sworn he said "That sh*t is white!" That left me feeling sort of intimidated.
posted by Greenie at 6:58 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

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