The Breaks

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For the 1999 film, see The Breaks (film).
"The Breaks"
12" single cover
Single by Kurtis Blow
from the album Kurtis Blow
B-side "The Breaks" (Instrumental/Do It Yourself)
Released 1980
Format 12"
Recorded 1979
Genre Old school hip hop
Length 7:43
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Kurtis Blow, Robert Ford Jr., James B. Moore, Russell Simmons, Larry Smith
Producer(s) J.B. Moore, Robert Ford Jr.
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Kurtis Blow singles chronology
"Christmas Rappin'"
"The Breaks"
"Hard Times"

The Breaks is a critically acclaimed 1980 hit single by Kurtis Blow from his self-titled debut album. It was one of the earliest hip-hop hits hitting its peak at #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the first certified gold rap song for Hip Hop, and the second certified gold 12 inch single in the history of music.


The female rap group Nadanuf remade the song alongside Kurtis Blow on their 1997 album Worldwide.[1] Blow re-recorded the song on the album Tricka Technology by A Skillz and Krafty Kuts.

Lyrics and structure[edit]

  • "The Breaks" repeats the word "break" (or any of its homophones) eighty-four times over six and a half minutes.
  • There are six breakdowns (seven including the outro) in "The Breaks".
  • There are no fewer than three definitions for "break," "to break" or "brakes" used in "The Breaks."
  • Unlike most hip-hop songs which sample prerecorded funk, the funk beat in this song is original (contrary to some statements that believe it sampled "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers). It has, in turn, been sampled by many subsequent musicians.
  • The tune was sampled in the 2005 reggaeton single, "Chacarron Macarron" by El Chombo.

Recognitions and usage[edit]

The single hit #87 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart,[2] and #9 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart.[3] The background beat of this album was used in Organized Rhyme's song "Check The O.R." In 2008, the song ranked #10 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. [4] The song has also featured in few games: the 2002 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the 2005 game True Crime: New York City, the 2006 game Scarface: The World Is Yours and 2011 Kinect game Dance Central 2.


  1. ^ " - Worldwide". Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 67. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 37. 
  4. ^ "VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved 2010-05-08.