Friday, April 03, 2009

Run-DMC: Kings of Rock Hall of Fame

Run-DMC gets their ultimate dap this weekend as they take their rightful spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We all know what the trio from Queens did for the Hip Hop game, so I’d thought I’d throw out a few random Run-DMC thoughts on this induction weekend.

TOUGHEST: Tougher Than Leather is their best album, just nudging out Raising Hell. Yes, Raising Hell completely changed the face of rap music, and it has been called the first true “b-boy album” but TLT offered tighter lyrics, more complex beats, and the top Run-DMC track ever. Underrated and panned at the time in 1988, Tougher than Leather lead off with the gimmicky single “Mary, Mary”, sampling the old Monkees’ track. The trio also incorporated some soul with a Temptations’ sample on “Papa Crazy.” “Beats to the Rhyme” features the patented switch off rhyme style with some ill Jam Master Jay cuts (the sample from that track “dance to the rhythm, the rhyme, the cold flow” on Company Flow’s “End to End Burners” is just sick.) JMJ also flexes his prowess on the simply titled “They Call Us Run-DMC.”

DON’T WALK: Mainstream critics always point to their collabo with Aerosmith on “Walk this Way” as a watershed moment in the genre. This is very true, however it doesn’t address one simple fact: the song was and still is completely wack. Jay flipping the original break beat is the best part, as Run and D spitting the original lyrics was very ho-hum. Check the album version of the track with the never ending guitar solo that was nauseating. Imagine today if a contemporary rapper remade a late 80s metal track; it would ridiculed by the Hip Hop realm. I would’ve loved to see a true version with Run and D spitting over the breakbeat hidden somewhere on a b-side.

NO FEATURING: These days you’ll be hard pressed to find any Hip Hop act with no guests on their albums. Back in the early days, the guest spots weren’t nearly as frequent, but you’d usually see a few here and there. Not Run-DMC, as their first five albums featured no one else rapping. And when they finally relented and went with a few guests it was the classic “Down With The King” with Pete Rock and CL Smooth both dropping gems that incorporated the original “Sucker MCs” lyrics.

THE HOUSE: In a catalog with tons of choices, “Run’s House” gets my pick as the greatest of the lot. The scratching, the chorus, the video (I wore out the tape I recorded that on; them just chilling in the park rapping, the masses following them down the block…classic.) The final verse by DMC you can practically feel his presence when he’s spitting as the beat just stops: “use a strategy to get the best of me, you dirty rat emcees…”

HOLLIS CLAUS: If you don’t think “Christmas In Hollis” is the greatest Christmas song of all time, you probably kick the Mall Santas in the nuts too.

ON DECK: With Run-DMC getting in the HOF, I’d hope some other Hip Hoppers follow. Bet that Public Enemy or the Beastie Boys will be going in soon. LL Cool J might be about due soonafter, with a darkhorse being A Tribe Called Quest.

TAKE IT PERSONAL: It is so cliché to say a band or group changed your life. But Run-DMC changed my life. They got me into Hip Hop. The music, the culture, all of it. It wasn’t a gradual process, I didn’t ease into it. It was simple: I heard Run-DMC, I copped the vinyl the next day and that was the end of me listening to any other type of music. I wore out that damn record and scoured the liner notes. From those notes I went and got Whodini albums, The Fat Boys, LL and the like. I rocked adidas sweats, backwards ball caps, had to go to one store in particular to get Word Up magazine, found the only Black radio station in Denver at the time (KDKO, son!) and met the few kids around who shared my new found passion. While 99% of my classmates were loving Bon Jovi, I was taping the 30 minute public television’s “Rhythm Visions” that was on at 11pm.

My Pops bought me a Run-DMC poster and that damn thing followed me from childhood home to a high school move, to college, to my post-college tenement style apartments. When I finally was able to buy my own spot, that poster, a bit tattered and torn went up in the dusty one car garage. When I got married and moved on up, the poster came too, and it is battered and beaten in my garage to this day. Kings of Rock, indeed.



Anonymous T-Dub said...

Not only are they icons, but they were prophets. They saw this $hit coming 25 years ago!

9:32 PM  
Blogger ♥♥♥♥♥ Jennifer™® ♥♥♥♥♥ said...

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10:35 PM  
Anonymous gas face 09 said...

Heard behind the scenes many RRHOF bigwigs are seriously peeved at what is going on there with RunDMC getting it. What about NWA? That would take some guts to put them in.

8:09 AM  
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