Kurtis Blow returns to ‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker’ following his 2020 heart transplant

Kurtis Blow attends the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame Gala on Oct. 23, 2014 in Huntington, New York. (Photo by Chance Yeh/Getty Images for Long Island Music Hall Of Fame)

The hip hop reimaging of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ is now in its seventh season.

Despite undergoing a heart transplant, rap pioneer Kurtis Blow returns to the stage in the Hip Hop Nutcracker which began touring the country again last weekend in San Diego.

The show follows Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker Suite,” but through the lens of hip hop. The story, featuring the Nutcracker Prince and Maria-Clara “battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets and learning the lessons of the holiday season” remains the same, but with a contemporary presentation.

Utilizing breakdancing, DJing, and a hip hop violinist, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is “a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, smashing hip hop dance and Tchaikovsky’s timeless music together into a heart-stirring and inspirational holiday event,” as stated on its official website.

Currently, in its seventh season, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is scheduled to hit 34 venues this holiday season, all the way up to Jan. 2. Cities slated to host the performance include Oakland, California, Brooklyn, New York, Portland, Oregon, St. Louis, Missouri and Miami, Florida.

Blow, whose real name is Kurtis Walker, has been working with The Hip Hop Nutcracker since its first performance at New York’s United Palace of Cultural Arts in 2014. Walker is the host, opening each show with a 20-minute set of his own music. The first rapper to be signed to a major label, Walker recorded classic rap records like “Christmas Rappin’,” “The Breaks,” “Basketball” and “If I Ruled The World,” and also produced hits for other rap stars like The Fat Boys.

Hip Hop Nutcracker (YouTube screengrab

This is a watershed season for Walker. He hasn’t performed live with The Hip Hop Nutcracker since receiving a heart transplant on Dec. 6, 2020. He has had a history of heart conditions over the years. In 2019, he had surgery to repair an aortic artery, but during the recovery period, was rushed back to the hospital for a second procedure, according to the Washington Informer.

He told the Mercury News that he was grateful to get a new lease on life, saying it’s “a miracle to be able to breathe again.”

“I feel great. I’m ready to get back out there onstage and I can’t wait to do it,” Walker said. “It’s just a blessing. I am so overjoyed, elated, happy and thankful to my Father in Heaven for making it possible. God is able.”

Walker says that The Hip Hop Nutcracker is an “extravaganza” that’s geared to all ages.


“It’s something for the whole family, bringing the family together in that spirit of joy, love, and the holiday season,” he continued. “Our theme is love conquers all. You are going to see an action-packed show with the greatest breakdancers and dancers from all around the world and a DJ mixing up funky beats of hip-hop all night long.”

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