Synopsis of Pop Music
"My Adidas cut the sand of a foreign land,
With mic in hand, I cold took command..."
Between performers like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, mixing rock and rap became a common trend in late 90's pop music. But none of this would have been possible without the group that defined hardcore rap, Run DMC. This pioneering rap trio mixed heavy guitar riffs with forceful dance beats to create a sound that appealed to rock and r&b fans alike. Their tough sound and streetwise appearance helped rap music move away from its early ‘novelty’ image and created a look and feel that would be borrowed from by every gangsta rapper who followed in their footsteps.
Joseph ‘Run’ Simmons and Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniel hail from New York City, where they grew up studying every move of rap pioneers like Whodini and Kurtis Blow. They formed Run DMC in 1982 and brought Jason ‘Jam Master Jay’ Mizell aboard to handle the turntables. They immediately hit paydirt with their first single, “It’s Like That/Sucker M.C.’s.” The song's spare but effective mixture of hard electronic beats and tough, lightning-fast raps from the two frontmen quickly made it a Top-20 r&b hit. No one had heard anything like it before, and Run DMC's style was soon dubbed ‘new school rap’.
Run DMC continued to break new ground with “Rock Box,” the song that introduced hard-rock guitar riffs into the rap music lexicon. By 1985, they were heroes in the rap music world. King of Rock was released around this time and featured serious r&b hits in the title track and “You Talk Too Much,” both of which laid dense, forceful raps atop a backing consisting of huge drumbeats, pounding bass and snarling rock guitar. They also appeared alongside Kurtis Blow and The Fat Boys in Krush Groove, one of the first films about rap music.
In 1986, Run DMC released the trendsetting Raising Hell. It was the first album to hit #1 on the r&b charts, the first platinum-selling rap album, and the first rap album to go Top-10 on the pop charts. It contained a Top-5 pop hit in “Walk This Way,” a rap-inflected cover of the Aerosmith song that also featured Aerosmith as guest stars. Run DMC also hit the Top-30 with the light-hearted “You Be Illin’” and got a lot of radio play with “My Adidas,” a tribute to their favored footwear. The latter song helped make Adidas sneakers and track suits required gear for any streetwise teen.
Run DMC recorded “Christmas In Hollis” for the A Very Special Christmas album in 1987. It was prominently featured in the film Die Hard and has become a holiday favorite on hip radio stations ever since. In 1988, they starred in their own film, Tougher Than Leather, a gritty but humorous adventure that harkened back to films like Superfly and featured the band performing alongside fellow rappers like Eric B. and Rakim and The Beastie Boys. Their drum-dominated cover of the Monkees classic “Mary Mary” became a radio favorite around this time.
In the 90’s, Run DMC continued to record alongside rap groups like Public Enemy and MRS-One, both of whom drew early inspiration from Run DMC’s classic songs. Fittingly, both groups showed up on Run DMC’s 1993 Down With The King. After that album, the trio took a long break for most of the 90’s. However, they are currently at work on a much-anticipated comeback album that will feature guests like The Beastie Boys, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. This distinguished guest list proves that Run DMC. are still ‘Kings of Rock’ to both their peers and their fans.
Artist Release History1982 - Run DMC
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsGRaising Hell (Priority)
Band MembersJason 'Reverend Run' Simmons vocals
Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels vocals
Jason 'Jam Master Jay' Mizell turntables