Kings of Rock
The sparse and deafening beats complimented with dope chanting rhymes made Run DMC the unmistakable new energy of hip-hop. This empowerment gave them ample force to create full-length masterpiece albums. (Another landmark of hip-hop’s history.) By the close of ’83 the group was working on their début self-titled album which was subsequently released in May 1984 by Profile. They spawned their second hit single which featured a pair of classic hooks, "Hard Times/Jam Master Jay" which joined the first single in topping the Top 20 R&B chart. Also 1984 saw the release of two more hit singles, "Rock Box" which played top-shelf rhymes under an Eddie Martinez metal guitar riff and was accompanied with "30 Days" all of which hit the streets before their eponymous début album was released. They answered a growing legion of fans and embarked on a national tour and set new trends. Early movement saw acts dressed in cowboy outfits and Furious Five in sequin Village People costumes, Fearless Four and the Treacherous Three dressed in wack matching red leather suits, Run DMC stamped onto the spotlight dressed in true b-boy uniform baggy Adidas clothing or sometimes heavy leather suits, big Cazal sunglasses, Fedora hats all in black and Adidas sneakers with the laces removed looking New York street. Such innovative and distinct new styles made them the hardest outfit in hip-hop. By 1985 their blossoming success flowered as they performed at the famous Live Aid concert gaining a mainstream identity on the world stage. Within a year Run DMC found itself trailblazing for black entertainment, becoming the first rap act to have a music video played on the music channel MTV. Their début album became the first rap album to go to number one on the R&B charts and first to break into the top ten charts for pop albums and first to go gold. Their follow-up album ‘Kings of Rock’ came at the time Run DMC were the leaders of the new school, the most popular and influential rappers in the world. As the title suggests, Run DMC broke down barriers and built bridges between the two powerhouses of the music industry rap and rock & roll. They provided hardened lyrics over heavy metal riffs and deep, resonating drum loops releasing hit singles, "Kings of Rock," "You Talk Too Much" and "Can You Rock Like This" reformatting the blueprints of both rap and rock genres. Run DMC told their steps to success in the biographical film of Russell Simmons and Def Jam records in 1985’s, Krush Groove alongside the Fat Boys, LL Cool J and Kurtis Blow. Run, DMC and Jam acted as themselves, Russell Simmons was played by actor Blair Underwood and their father Daniel Simmons guest starred briefly.
By ’86 they finished their third album co-produced by Def Jam‘s Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, Raising Hell which became the highest-selling rap album of all-time reaching number one on the R&B charts, number three on the Billboard album charts, and sold over three million copies. This was preceded by the Top Ten R&B single "My Adidas" which set the stage for the group's biggest hit single, continuing their revolutionary new direction of hip-hop by covering Aerosmith’s, "Walk This Way" collaborating with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to create a rap-rock phenomenon, the first hip-hop record to appeal to both hardcore rap and rock fans. This also became the first hip-hop song to ever make the Top Ten on Billboard’s singles charts hitting fourth position and sitting firm for sixteen weeks. "Peter Piper" (1986) was the first rap record in which a DJ cut the record, utilizing jazz musician Bob James’ hit, "Take Me to the Mardi Gras." They performed at a notorious show out in Long Beach, California that summer in front of a hostile confrontation of gang members who inevitably ran riot turning the event into full-scale gang warfare before Run DMC could even step onstage. Here rap and violence became synonymous. By the end of the year they became the first rap act to hold both platinum and multi-platinum albums as well as becoming the first rappers to appear on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine, Saturday Night Live, American Bandstand and first to receive a Grammy nomination. Raising Hell also gave way to hit singles, "You Be Illin’" and "It’s Tricky."
1987 saw Run DMC chasing the heights of their third album’s triumph with Tougher Than Leather which was accompanied by the movie of the same name, with each star acting in the ‘70s blaxploitation parody. Both the album and film dropped at a critical period in hip-hop which saw a cultural change of the tide toward a more hard-lined political ideology supporting groups they swept the floor for such as Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy and the new breed of west coast’s gangsta rap. Their afro-centricity stopped with sharp Adidas suits and boasting well-delivered rhymes, now was the era of the black-fist message with a beat. By their releases in ’88 the movie bombed and the album went platinum without a single hit to its name. However, undeterred they continued returning with ‘Back From Hell’ which served as their first album not to go platinum. Following the release of this album both Run and DMC experienced personal problems, seeing DMC suffer a bout of alcoholism and Run being publicly accused of rape. After both had cleared their hurdles, Daniels sobered up and Run walked free dismissed of any charges, they turned to God and inherited a strong sense of religion to inspire their lives. Rappers Run and DMC were now born-again Christians. The overtones of this awakening were apparent on the 1993 album, Down With the King which featured guest appearances from Public Enemy, KRS One, EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock and R&B starlet Nenah Cherry who came together to send their respects to the living legends. The album was an honourable comeback for the trio. The explosive title-track became an R&B hit and the album went gold peaking at number 21. Although Run DMC were now known as the leaders of the old school rather than the new, the album’s success sought to place Run DMC as one of the greatest and most respected pioneers in the history of hip-hop among both peers and fans alike.