Run-D.M.C. iTunes Tracks Run-D.M.C. Official Website

Run-D.M.C.


A combination of hip-hop and hardcore rap, this trio from the state of New York were not the first off the conveyor-belt, but they were certainly one of the most influential and fruitful combos of the times, paving the way for political rappers PUBLIC ENEMY, BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS (led by KRS-ONE) and the gangsta N.W.A. The skilfully-crafted RUN-D.M.C. had attitude aplenty; their leather-clad, sneaker-obsessed B-Boy image more accurately reflecting street culture and what was going down in the underground clubs. Chalking up several cross-Atlantic chart hits, none were more memorable than debut, `It’s Like That’ (a belated UK chart-topper in ’98), `Walk This Way’ (a hard-rock rap collaboration/cover with Messrs AEROSMITH) and the sample-tastic `It’s Tricky’.
Formed in Hollis, New York, Queens, in 1982, inspiration had stemmed from innovator GRANDMASTER FLASH (aka Joseph Saddler) and the similar WHODINI. The East Coast was thriving and pulsating with fresh teenage lads trying to make an honest buck or three. RUN-D.M.C. had the determination and the backing to succeed. Joe “Run” Simmons and Daryll “D.M.C.” McDaniels were pitted together by Joe’s brother Russell (who’d just instigated Rush Productions and fledgling Def Jam imprint, alongside producer Rick Rubin) and, adding a third member, turntablist Jay-Master-Jay (born Jason Mizell), Profile Records offered the trio a chance to cut a track.
The result was the seminal 1983 single, `It’s Like That’ (twinned with `Sucker M.C.’s – Krush Groove 1’). Oft quoted as the record that kick-started modern hip-hop, the track substituted the conventional live backing band of the day for stripped down, pulverising drum machine beats. The single was certainly not a cross-over hit first time of asking; neither was second single `Hard Times’, but the buzz around the Big Apple guaranteed sales for their eponymous RUN-D.M.C. (1984) {*8} set, the following May. Underscoring their uncompromising vision, the LP introduced the group’s pioneering marriage of metal and rap on the stinging `Rock Box’; simplistic spinners `Jam-Master-Jay’, `Hollis Crew – Krush Groove 2’ and `30 Days’ resonated with the break-dancing brigade, and opened up fresh avenues.
1985 saw the group make an appearance within the film Krush Groove (alongside the likes of KURTIS BLOW and the BEASTIE BOYS); it was based on the life of Russell. Back in the recording studio with KING OF ROCK (1985) {*7}, and eventually spawning four chart-wise ones-that-got-away in the title track, `You Talk Too Much’, `Jam-Master Jammin’’ and `Can You Rock It Like This’, RUN-D.M.C. were taking their rap-rock hybrid to new extremes.
But it was RAISING HELL (1986) {*8} that really put the trio on the map; their intuitive collaborative effort featuring AEROSMITH – then in a career trough – on `Walk This Way’, making both parties transatlantic Top 10 chart stars; the second time around for the Glimmer Twins ,Tyler and Perry. From the style frenzy of `My Adidas’ to the vocal wordplay of big hitters `You Be Illin’’, `Peter Piper’ and `It’s Tricky’ (the latter borrowing The KNACK’s “My Sharona”), the set led the mid-80s hip-hop zeitgeist, becoming the first rap album to go platinum. The BEASTIE BOYS’ 1986 debut, `License To Ill’ followed suit, a multi-million seller that topped the chart and an anarchic joint tour with their rivals further consolidated RUN-D.M.C.’s reputation as the kings of rap.
A year is a long time in hip hop, and by the release of TOUGHER THAN LEATHER (1988) {*6}, hard-hitting young upstarts like PUBLIC ENEMY were crossing over to the lucrative white audience with a vengeance. Although tracks like `Beats To The Rhyme’, `Run’s House’ and a song once used by The MONKEES, `Mary, Mary’, stood up amongst the best of their earlier work, the record lacked the fire of old, while a parodic, blaxploitation movie of the same name failed miserably at the box office. Although RUN-D.M.C.’s sorry sequel to `Ghostbusters’ (from “II”) scratched the surface of the UK charts, the trio were certainly out of sorts.
1990’s BACK FROM HELL {*5} barely scraped into the charts and though the record had its “Alfie” moment in minor UK hit, `What’s It All About’ (add to that: `Faces’ and `The Ave’), it failed to remedy the group’s critical and commercial decline. A very difficult period for the lads, Simmons and McDaniels had undergone various personal problems; the latter suffering from alcoholism, whilst the former was accused of rape (the charges were subsequently dropped).
Born-again Christians, RUN-D.M.C. eventually re-emerged in 1993 a la DOWN WITH THE KING {*6}; its title a reference to their recent religious conversion. With production contributions from the cream of the rap fraternity (NAUGHTY BY NATURE, Q-TIP, The BOMB SQUAD, EPMD, KRS-ONE, JERMAINE DUPRI, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth), the album and spin-off title track were reasonable successes, and their first foray into the Top 10 in five years. However, along with the likes of the once mighty JUNGLE BROTHERS, RAKIM, et al, RUN-D.M.C. had failed to re-invent themselves (like old buddies the BEASTIE BOYS); their sound now somewhat dated in a hip-hop scene which thrived on constant flux. Despite their fall from grace Stateside, production mixer Jason Nevins was working wonders for 1998’s version of `It’s Like That’, which, as said previously, topped the UK charts.
Although the trio finally re-emerged in the new millennium, the 1999-recorded CROWN ROYAL (2001) {*4} sounded as tired as their image looked frayed. One time grandmasters of the rock crossover track, RUN-DMC did that legacy few favours on the attendant collaborations with LIMP BIZKIT’s Fred Durst (`Them Girls’), KID ROCK (`The School Of Old’) and EVERLAST (in a cover of STEVE MILLER’s `Take The Money And Run’), while even the contributions of METHOD MAN, NAS, PRODIGY (aka Albert Johnson), SUGAR RAY, JAGGED EDGE, JERMAINE DUPRI et al, failed to inject any passion.
Sadly, just as things might be getting back on track, on October 30, 2002, Jason Mizell was shot dead by an unknown assailant on the streets of Jamaica, Queens; he was only 37. That too was the final straw for RUN-D.M.C., although producer JACKNIFE LEE paid tribute by re-vamping `It’s Tricky’ for a UK Top 20 entry the following spring; prior to a “Greatest Hits” success.
© MC Strong/MCS 1994-2009/GRD-LCS/BG // rev-up MCS Dec2018

Share this Project

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.