The Music & Legacy of Run-DMC

Two years ago a friend of mine asked me to say some emcee rhymes. So I said this rhyme I’m about to say, the rhyme was def and it went this way: Took a test to become an emcee, and Orange Krush became amazed at me. So Larry put me inside his Cadillac, the chauffeur drove off and we never came back
Dave cut the record down to the bone, and now they got me rockin on the microphone..

You’re a five dollar boy and I’m a million dollar man. You’re a sucker emcee and you’re my fan. You try to bite rhymes, all lines are mine, you’re a sucker emcee in a pair of Calvin Kleins. Coming from the wackest part of town, trying to rap but you can’t get down. You don’t even know your English, your verbs or noun. You’re just a sucker emcee, you sad faced clown…

And with that verse and that 12″ single- “It’s Like That b/w Sucker M.C.’s“- the era of the old school rapper came to a close.

Of course Run DMC are usually considered old school by today’s terms, but in 1983 when that single was released it was as far from the sound of rap at that time. Run DMC had sparse beats and sharp lyrics. They didn’t need a band backing them in the studio or on stage. They had the one man band- Jam Master Jay backing them all the way.

In 1978, Kurtis Blow was one of rap’s first superstars and he needed a DJ. Russell Simmons was managing Kurtis at the time and he knew his teenage brother, Joseph, would be a perfect fit for the job. “Kurtis Blow’s Disco Son- DJ Run” as he was known was born. He got his name because he could cut between two turntables so quickly.

After touring with Kurtis for a while, Run began to make a name for himself as an emcee. He traded rhymes with Kurt and taped his performances. After getting a good night’s sleep he would call up his buddy Darryl McDaniels and play the tape.

D was not into the night life like Run. He played a lot of basketball and football growing up. Along with his brother he collected loads of comic books. D liked to draw all the time as well. One day, D heard a tape of Grandmaster Flash and decided he wanted to be like him. He bought 2 turntables, a mixer, and break beat records of the time. D taught Run to spin records and Run told D to start rapping.

D’s mom wouldn’t let him near any real rap shows, so when Run got some better deejay equipment it was Run’s house for next few years. D began calling himself Easy D and busted out crazy rhymes that would never see the light of day- he would never rap in public.

Around 1980, they began going to the parties at Two-Fifth Park in Hollis to hear the deejays do their thing. It was there that they met up with a deejay named Jazzy Jase.

Jason Mizell had developed a reputation in the area. He wore the flyest b-boy clothes and did what he could to stand out. He hung out with the tough crowd, but was smart enough to also be down with the nerds. Everybody liked Jazzy Jase, as he was known.

After getting into some trouble with the law, Jay began to focus on music. He played drums and bass but gave them up for the new instrument of the time- the wheels of steel. Eventually he developed quite a following in the park, including Run and DMC. Emcees would do whatever they could to get up and rap in front of Jazzy Jase.

They struggled with schoolwork as rap began to take over their lives.

Flash ahead now. Run is 17 and has been working with Kurtis Blow and, through Russell, he finally got a chance to record a song. It was called “Street Kid” but the attitude was not right and it went no where. Run was determined to make a song with his main man D. D and Russell didn’t see eye to eye. D didn’t like Kurtis Blow. But both Kurtis and Russell knew that D knew the music and knew what was going to hit big. Russell didn’t like D’s rhymes though. He thought they were too hard at the time.

Finally it did come time to record. Run knew what he wanted. Straight b-boy type beats with nothing but a drum track and a scratch. That’s what he got. 1983’s “It’s Like That b/w Sucker MC’s” broke every rule in the book and, although it would continue a few more years, put a symbolic end to old school rap.

I could go on with their career, but I suspect you know the rest by heart. They released “RUN DMC” in 1984 (a near perfect hip hop album, by the way) and followed that up with “King of Rock” in 1985. They starred in Krush Groove in 1985. But it was their collaboration with Aerosmith on “Walk This Way” from 1986’s “Raising Hell” that made their legacy complete.

They appeared in the documentary film The Show, performing “My Adidas” and “Together Forever.”

For more information on the early years of Run DMC, pick up a copy of the group’s excellent biography, “Tougher Than Leather: The Authorized Biography of RUN DMC” by B. Adler.

At the beginning of the 1990’s Jam Master Jay set up JMJ Records with Davy DMX. They released a few albums most notably, Smooth Ice and The Afro’s. Jay also worked with Onyx.

They recorded several more albums, but none achieved the same success. Regardless, Run DMC will forever be the ones who broke down the doors to main stream popularity of the music.

They were featured in ads for The Gap and D.O.C. Eyecare.

Their latest effort titled Crown Royal was finally released in April of 2001 where it entered the BillBoard chart at #37.

Jam Master Jay was killed during an altercation in October 2002.

Rev. Run released “Distortion” in October 2005 and appeared on the MTV Reality Series “Run’s House” around the same time.

DMC’s first solo LP “Checks Thugs and Rock n Roll was released in 2005. DMC later went on to win an Emmy and write a book about his adoption experience and finding his birth mother.

Simple idea: If you love hip hop music, you’ve gotta love Run DMC.

It’s like that, and that’s the way it is.


On May 25th, Run DMC will Release ‘The Music of Run DMC‘ a 3-disc Box Set Collection! Something you’re going to want to pick up!

Official Tracklisting:

Disc 1
1. Sucker M.C.’S (Krush-Groove 1)
2. Rock Box
3. It’s Like That
4. Jam-Master Jay
5. Hard Times
6. Hollis Crew (Krush-Groove 2)
7. Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)
8. King Of Rock
9. You Talk Too Much
10. Jam-Master Jammin’
11. Roots, Rap, Reggae
12. Can You Rock It Like This
13. Darryl And Joe (Krush-Groove 3)
14. Together Forever (Krush-Groove 4 (Live at Hollis Park ’84))

Disc 2
1. Peter Piper
2. It’s Tricky
3. My Adidas
4. Is It Live
5. Walk This Way Featuring Aerosmith
6. Hit It Run
7. Raising Hell
8. You Be Illin’
9. Christmas In Hollis
10. Run’s House
11. Mary, Mary
12. They Call Us Run-D.M.C.
13. Beats To The Rhyme
14. Radio Station
15. Tougher Than Leather
16. How’d Ya Do It Dee

Disc 3
1. The Ave
2. Pause
3. What’s It All About
4. Naughty
5. Down With The King
6. Come On Everybody
7. Ooh, Watcha Gonna Do
8. Get Open
9. Wreck Shop
10. Queens Day Featuring Nas & Prodigy form Mobb Deep
11. The School Of Old RUN-DMC Featuring Kid Rock
12. Take The Money And Run Featuring Everlast
13. Rock Show Featuring Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind
14. Ay Papi Featuring Fat Joe
15. Simmons Incorporated (Clean Mix) Featuring Method Man; RUN-DMC Featuring Method Man, Kenny Cash, Mike Ransom, and Jamel Simmons


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