Show/Hide Menu Show/Hide Search

Robert “Rocky” Ford Jr. got his start at Billboard in the 1970s. A busy nightlife (and a chance encounter on a Queens bus) led him to Russell Simmons and NYC’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. Rocky gave the genre its very first mainstream coverage with his 1978 article “B-Beats Bombarding Bronx.” From there, it was a quick move to writing and producing hits for Simmons’ good friend Kurtis Blow – and then for Full Force, Hi-Five, and even Tom Hanks!

We talk to Ford about writing hits like “The Breaks,” his relationships with Simmons and one-time roommate Nelson George, and why he cast Full Force as House Party’s villains. Ford did it all in the 1970s and 80s, and shares his story here.

Tracks featured in this episode:

  1. The Hues Corporation, “Rock the Boat”
  2. The Young Rascals, “Groovin’”
  3. Full Force, “The Man Upstairs”
  4. Kurtis Blow, “Christmas Rappin’”
  5. Kurtis Blow, “Christmas Rappin’”
  6. Steely Dan, “The Royal Scam”
  7. Kurtis Blow, “The Breaks”
  8. Eddie Lawrence, “The Old Philosopher”
  9. Kurtis Blow, “The Breaks”
  10. Kurtis Blow, “Way Out West”
  11. Kurtis Blow, “Way Out West”
  12. Kurtis Blow, “Basketball”
  13. Lil Bow Wow f/Jermaine Dupri, Fabolous & Fundisha, “Basketball”
  14. Kurtis Blow, “Hard Times”
  15. Kurtis Blow, “Tough”
  16. Kurtis Blow, “Daydreamin’”
  17. UTFO, “Roxanne Roxanne”
  18. The Real Roxanne with UTFO, “The Real Roxanne”
  19. Dr. Freshh, “Roxanne’s Doctor – The Real Man”
  20. Roxanne Shante, “Roxanne’s Revenge”
  21. Full Force, “Child’s Play 2”
  22. Howlin’ Wolf, “Sittin’ On Top of the World”
  23. Kurtis Blow, “Starlife”
  24. Full Force, “United”
  25. House Party (excerpt)
  26. Tashan, “Black Man”
  27. Rodney Dangerfield, “Rappin’ Rodney”
  28. Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks, “City of Crime”

Show notes:

  1. “B-Beats Bombarding Bronx: Mobile DJ Starts Something With Oldie R&B Disks” by Robert Ford Jr. (Billboard, July 1, 1978)
  2. “They’re Playing Basketball: An Oral History of Kurtis Blow’s ‘Basketball’ on the 30th Anniversary of the Groundbreaking Video” by Patrick Sauer (SB Nation, December 11, 2013)
comments powered by Disqus

Previous / Next: