The First Four Reissued Deluxe Edition Run-D.M.C. Albums


Hip-hop, in all its permutations, is all around us.

It has taken over the pop music as well as the Billboard Charts, and private schools are changing their dress codes to be more hip-hop friendly. Conversely, the NBA, fearing a loss of control over its players, eliminated all hip-hop associated garments and accessories just last week. Turn your ears and open your eyes, hip-hop is everywhere. The trail laid during the rollercoaster ride from musical obscurity to worldwide cultural
powerhouse points back to one group.

RUN-DMC, Run-DMC’s 1984 debut, has often been referred to as the hip-hop equivalent to The Beatles’ groundbreaking debut, Meet the Beatles, which at the time created a massive cultural tidal wave. As soon as RUN-DMC got on the scene, their effect on nearly every damn aspect of the culture was immediate and simultaneous. When they wrote a song about Adidas, those were the only shoes you’d wear. Not only were they the kings of hip-hop, but they were the self-appointed kings of rock.

Listening to the group’s first four re-released albums: RUN-DMC, King of Rock, Raising Hell, and Tougher Then Leather, I remember the immediacy of their music. The production team behind the group couldn’t afford the studio full of session musicians, so they employed drum machines to lay the sparse, banging beats. Layered on top of this were the live samples and scratches laid down by Jam Master Jay. This simple formula created the perfect backdrop for the group’s lyrics rapped by RUN and DMC.

On “It’s Like That,” a song aimed at troubled youth about the cold world they live in, DMC says, “You could’ve learned a trade/ But you laid in the bed where the bums have laid/Now all the time you’re crying that you’re underpaid.” Amazingly enough, when you listen to the instrumental by itself, it provokes the similar emotional response that the lyrical subject matter did, one of immediacy, importance and harsh reality. Their albums are also full of absolute hits such as “Peter Piper,” “Walk This Way,” “My Adidas,” and “It’s Tricky.” Incredibly, those are just the first four songs off of one album. When you consider the amount of quality material this group put out in a relatively small amount of time, it becomes apparent how great they really are.

Included in the repackaged four albums is addition bonus material such demos, outtakes, instrumentals, a cappelas and live performances. I was even more excited about the inclusion of live performances, most notably the version of “Here We Go” recorded from their classic performance at NYC’s Funhouse. In all, the additional material and extended liner notes make these worthy of purchase even if you already have them.

As hip-hop culture continues to influence more and more of our daily lives, it becomes even more important to know its history. These releases remind us not only of what the music was like once upon a time, but who trail blazed hip-hop into our mainstream airwaves, and TV sets for the very first time. RUN-DMC: the godfathers of rap and the kings of rock. Absolutely classic.

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