The Breaks (song)

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"The Breaks"
Kurtis Blow - The Breaks.jpg
12" single cover
Single by Kurtis Blow
from the album Kurtis Blow
B-side"The Breaks" (Instrumental/Do It Yourself)
ReleasedJune 14, 1980[1]
Songwriter(s)Kurtis Blow, Robert Ford Jr., James B. Moore, Russell Simmons, Larry Smith
Producer(s)J.B. Moore, Robert Ford Jr.
Kurtis Blow singles chronology
"Christmas Rappin'"
"The Breaks"
"Hard Times"
Audio sample
"The Breaks"

"The Breaks" is a 1980 single by American rapper Kurtis Blow from his self-titled debut album. It peaked at #87 on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] It was the first certified gold rap song, and the second certified gold 12-inch single.[5][6] In 2008, the song ranked #10 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. [7]

Lyrics and structure[edit]

"The Breaks" repeats the word "break" (or any of its homophones) 84 times over six and a half minutes. It features six breakdowns (seven including the outro) while there are three definitions for "break," "to break" or "brakes" used in the lyrics. Unlike most hip-hop songs which sample prerecorded funk, the funk beat in this song is original (contrary to suggestions that it sampled "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers).


The single hit #87 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart,[8] and #9 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart.[9]


It sold over 500,000 copies, becoming the first rap song to earn a gold certification from the RIAA[5] and the second 12-inch single to earn a gold certification, following "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.[6][10]


The song has also featured in few games: the 2002 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the fictional in-game radio station "Wildstyle", the 2005 game True Crime: New York City, the 2006 game Scarface: The World Is Yours and 2011 Kinect game Dance Central 2.


It has been sampled by others, including the background beat being used in Organized Rhyme's song "Check The O.R." and the 2005 reggaeton single, "Chacarron Macarron" by El Chombo

The female rap group Nadanuf remade the song alongside Kurtis Blow on their 1997 album Worldwide.[11] Blow re-recorded the song on the album Tricka Technology by A Skillz and Krafty Kuts. H

H.O.T's Tony Ahn rapped the portions of The Breaks as an uncredited vocal for the intro of S.E.S.'s "I'm Your Girl".[citation needed]


  1. ^ Steve Sullivan (2017-05-17). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 3. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442254497. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  2. ^ "Key Tracks: Kurtis Blow's Self-Titled Debut Album". Red Bull Music Academy. 2015-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  3. ^ "40 Years of 'The Breaks': Kurtis Blow Remembers the 'Dream World' Surrounding Rap's First Gold Hit".
  4. ^ "Kurtis Blow - Chart history | Billboard". Retrieved 2015-07-01.
  5. ^ a b Zanfagna, Christina (2017). Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels. University of California Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780520296206.
  6. ^ a b George, Nelson (1988). The Death of Rhythm & Blues. New York, NY: Pantheon Books. p. 191. ISBN 0142004081. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  7. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 67.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 37.
  10. ^ Grein, Paul (August 10, 1985). "Hot Madonna: July Fills Her Coffers With RIAA Metal". Billboard. Billboard Publications, Inc. 97 (32): 1. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  11. ^ " - Worldwide". Retrieved 2007-07-11.