Hip-Hop History Tuesday: 1986, The Year Run-D.M.C. Raised Hell And Helped Rap Crossover

Posted by Billyjam, March 3, 2015 03:03am | Post a Comment

When they arrived on the hip-hop scene in the early 1980's Run-D.M.C. distinguished themselves as the leaders of the new school of rap music. This claim by the Hollis, Queens, NY trio comprised of Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, and Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell was truly justified by the unique group who would be perhaps the most influential group of the genre with their hardcore rap sound. With 1984's self-titled debut on Profile Records and its follow-up; 1985's King of Rock, Run DMC were already hugely popular with fans of the then still burgeoning hip-hop music genre but it was 1986's Raising Hell  their third album that proved to be their breakthrough, crossover release. Raising Hell won them a whole wave of new fans - many of whom up until this point had dismissed rap as mere novelty and  passing fad in pop music. Run DMC's updated rock/rap version of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" deserves  much of the credit for breaking Run DMC (and rap/hip-hop along with it) into the mainstream. The conversion of the average mid eighties hard rock fan, who up to this stage was still resistant to rap because they saw it as a derivative of the then stigmatized genre of disco, went to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith who joined on them on both the record and in the influential music video of "Walk This Way." The result was an inspired updated rap rendition of an already great rock song.


Run-D.M.C. "Walk This Way" (1986)

With that one popular collaboration with Aerosmith, Run DMC were officially the rap kings of rock even though they had been expertly fusing rock and rap before this point. But this single along the rest of the five-star Raising Hell album including the singles "Peter Piper," "It's Tricky," "You Be Illin," and "My Adidas" - (all deserved hits) was a runaway hit for the group. More importantly that influential record soon put an end to the "rap is a fad" mentality, paving the way for the global force that hip-hop would become in the years ever since.  The 12 track Raising Hell, which has been re-released in a deluxe version with five bonus tracks, is a must have for any hip-hop collection. Beyond the obvious rock-rap fusion Raising Hell was very much a traditional hip-hop album epitomized by songs such as the opening track, "Peter Piper," which is hip-hop at its purest and finest. The nursery rhyme derived song opens with Run and D.M.C. doing a rapid fire acapella exchange of words before, nine seconds into the track, the late great Jam Master Jay teases in a scratch of Bob James' "Take Me to Mardi Gras" (one of the foundations of hip-hop music) which then becomes the backbone of this timeless hip-hop classic that features lots of cutting and scratching plus numerous vocal props to the DJ including that famous line, "goddam that DJ made my day." Meanwhile on album tracks such as "It's Tricky" Run and D.M.C. are heard bragging about their fame and fortune - a recurring theme throughout Raising Hell. But while the lyrically far from humble Run-D.M.C. could be credited with creating the template for bragadocious rap they could also be credited with laying the foundation for hip-hop's later Afrocentric movement with songs like "Proud to Be Black" with empowering rhymes such as, "Like Martin Luther King, I will do my thing/I'll say it in a rap 'cause I do not sing!" Indeed Run DMC did not sing. They didn’t need to when they rapped like this.

Run-D.M.C. "It's Tricky"

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1986 Hip-hop (3), Billy Jam (40), Hip Hop (94), Run-d.m.c. (12), Hip-hop History (63), Hip-hop History Tuesdays (44), Hip-hop History Amoeblog (33), Rap (134)