Kurtis el Khaleel (Arabic: خليل)
Known by the stage name Kurtis Mantronik, Kurtis is a hip hop, and electronic music artist, DJ, remixer and producer. Mantronik was the former leader, DJ and keyboardist of the influential 1980s hip hop and electro-funk group Mantronix. Currently, Mantronik lives in New York, where he has produced, written and remixed house and techno music tracks by artists such as Joyce Sims, Junior Senior, Kylie Minogue, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, Michael Gray, Victoria Beckham, Liberty X and Mim, to name but a few.
Mantronik was born in Jamaica to a Syrian father and a Jamaican mother. He emigrated to Canada with his family at age 7, before eventually settling in New York City in 1980. It was around this time that his interest in electro music began when he heard “Riot in Lagos” (1980) by Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto on the radio, inspiring him to experiment with electro music a few years later.
While working as the in-store DJ for Downtown Records in Manhattan, Mantronik met Haitian-born, Brooklyn-based emcee MC Tee (né Touré Embden) in 1984. The duo soon made a demo, and eventually signed with William Socolov’s Sleeping Bag Records.
Mantronix was an influential 1980s hip hop and electro funk music group founded by DJ Kurtis Mantronik (Kurtis el Khaleel), and rapper MC Tee (Touré Embden). Mantronix underwent several genre (and line-up) changes during its 7-year existence (1984–1991), from old school hip hop and electro-funk to house music, but the group is primarily remembered for its original, heavily synthesized blend of old school hip-hop and electro funk.