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Run DMC

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Biography

More than any other hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C. are responsible for the sound and style of the music. As the first hardcore rap outfit, the trio set the sound and style for the next decade of rap. With their spare beats and excursions into heavy metal samples, the trio were tougher and more menacing than their predecessors Grandmaster Flash and Whodini. In the process, they opened the door for both the politicized rap of Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, as well as the hedonistic gangsta fantasies of N.W.A. At the same time, Run-D.M.C. helped move rap from a singles-oriented genre to an album-oriented one -- they were the first hip-hop artist to construct full-fledged albums, not just collections with two singles and a bunch of filler. By the end of the '80s, Run-D.M.C. had been overtaken by the groups they had spawned, but they continued to perform to a dedicated following well into the '90s. All three members of Run-D.M.C. were natives of the middle-class New York borough Hollis, Queens. Run (born Joseph Simmons, November 14, 1964) was the brother of Russell Simmons, who formed the hip-hop management company Rush Productions in the early '80s; by the mid-'80s, Russell had formed the pioneering record label Def Jam with Rick Rubin. Russell encouraged his brother Joey and his friend Darryl McDaniels (born May 31, 1964) to form a rap duo. The pair of friends did just that, adopting the names Run and D.M.C., respectively. After they graduated from high school in 1982, the pair enlisted their friend Jason Mizell (born January 21, 1965) to scratch turntables; Mizell adopted the stage name Jam Master Jay. In 1983, Run-D.M.C. released their first single, "It's Like That"/"Sucker M.C.'s," on Profile Records. The single sounded like no other rap at the time -- it was spare, blunt, and skillful, with hard beats and powerful, literate, daring vocals, where Run and D.M.C.'s vocals overlapped, as they finished each other's lines. It was the first "new school" hip-hop recording. "It's Like That" became a Top 20 R&B hit, as did the group's second single, "Hard Times"/"Jam Master Jay." Two other hit R&B singles followed in early 1984 -- "Rock Box" and "30 Days" -- before the group's eponymous debut appeared. By the time of their second album, 1985's King of Rock, Run-D.M.C. had become the most popular and influential rappers in America, already spawning a number of imitators. As the King of Rock title suggests, the group were breaking down the barriers between rock & roll and rap, rapping over heavy metal records and thick, dense drum loops. Besides releasing the King of Rock album and scoring the R&B hits "King of Rock," "You Talk Too Much," and "Can You Rock It Like This" in 1985, the group also appeared in the rap movie Krush Groove, which also featured Kurtis Blow, the Beastie Boys, and the Fat Boys. Run-D.M.C.'s fusion of rock and rap broke into the mainstream with their third album, 1986's Raising Hell. The album was preceded by the Top Ten R&B single "My Adidas," which set the stage for the group's biggest hit single, a cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Recorded with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, "Walk This Way" was the first hip-hop record to appeal to both rockers and rappers, as evidenced by its peak position of number four on the pop charts. In the wake of the success of "Walk This Way," Raising Hell became the first rap album to reach number one on the R&B charts, to chart in the pop Top Ten, and to go platinum, and Run-D.M.C. were the first rap act to received airplay on MTV -- they were the first rappers to cross over into the pop mainstream. Raising Hell also spawned the hit singles "You Be Illin'" and "It's Tricky." Run-D.M.C. spent most of 1987 recording Tougher Than Leather, their follow-up to Raising Hell. Tougher Than Leather was accompanied by a movie of the same name. Starring Run-D.M.C., the film was an affectionate parody of '70s blaxploitation films. Although Run-D.M.C. had been at the height of their popularity when they were recording and filming Tougher Than Leather, by the time the project was released, the rap world had changed. Most of the hip-hop audience wanted to hear hardcore political rappers like Public Enemy, not crossover artists like Run-D.M.C. Consequently, the film bombed and the album only went platinum, failing to spawn any significant hit singles. Two years after Tougher Than Leather, Run-D.M.C. returned with Back From Hell, which became their first album not to go platinum. Following its release, both Run and D.M.C. suffered personal problems as McDaniels suffered a bout of alcoholism and Simmons was accused of rape. After McDaniels sobered up and the charges against Simmons were dismissed, both of the rappers became born-again Christians, touting their religious conversion on the 1993 album Down With the King. Featuring guest appearances and production assistance from artists as diverse as Public Enemy, EPMD, Naughty by Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Neneh Cherry, Pete Rock, and KRS-One, Down With the King became the comeback Run-D.M.C. needed. The title track became a Top Ten R&B hit and the album went gold, peaking at number 21. Although they were no longer hip-hop innovators, the success of Down With the King proved that Run-D.M.C. were still respected pioneers. After a long studio hiatus, the trio returned in early 2000 with Crown Royal. The album did little to add to their ailing record sales, but the following promotional efforts saw them join Aerosmith and Kid Rock for a blockbuster performance on MTV. By 2002, the release of two greatest-hits albums prompted a tour with Aerosmith that saw them travel the U.S., always performing "Walk This Way" to transition between their sets. Sadly, only weeks after the end of the tour, Jam Master Jay was senselessly murdered in a studio session in Queens. Only 37 years old, the news of his passing spread quick and hip-hop luminaries like Big Daddy Kane and Funkmaster Flex took the time to pay tribute to him on New York radio stations. Possibly the most visible DJ in the history of hip-hop, his death was truly the end of an era and unfortunately perpetuated the cycle of violence that has haunted the genre since the late '80s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   It's Tricky
  3.   It's Like That
  4.   My Adidas
  5.   Christmas in Hollis
  6.   Peter Piper
  7.   King of Rock
  8.   Sucker M.C.'s (Krush-Groove 1)
  9.   You Be Illin'
  10.   Down with the King
  11.   Slow and Low
  12.   Mary, Mary
  13.   Hard Times
  14.   Jam-Master Jay
  15.   Proud to Be Black
  16.   Rock Box
  17.   Beats to the Rhyme
  18.   Can You Rock It Like This
  19.   Is It Live
  20.   Jam-Master Jammin'
  21.   Hollis Crew (Krush-Groove 2)
  22.   Hit It Run
  23.   You Talk Too Much
  24.   Christmas Is
  25.   Sucker M.C.'s
  26.   Queens Day
  27.   Papa Crazy
  28.   Santa Baby
  29.   Run's House
  30.   Tougher Than Leather
  31.   Dumb Girl
  32.   You're Blind
  33.   I'm Not Going Out Like That
  34.   Rock the House
  35.   Radio Station
  36.   Raising Hell
  37.   Ghostbusters
  38.   Here We Go
  39.   Can I Get a Witness
  40.   Run's Freestyle
  41.   The School of Old
  42.   Not Just Another Groove
  43.   Ooh, Whatcha Gonna Do
  44.   Raising Hell Radio Tour Spot
  45.   Russell & Larry Running at the Mouth
  46.   Ooh, Watcha Gonna Do
  47.   It's Tricky 2003
  48.   Bounce
  49.   Ay Papi
  50.   Ahhh
  51.   Here We Go 2001
  52.   Them Girls
  53.   Crown Royal
  54.   It's Over
  55.   Perfection
  56.   Kick the Frama Lama Lama
  57.   Bob Your Head
  58.   Son of Byford
  59.   30 Days
  60.   Wake Up
  61.   For 10 Years
  62.   Wreck Shop
  63.   In the House
  64.   Intro
  65.   The Ave.
  66.   The Beginning (No Further Delay) by Method Man
  67.   Interview 4
  68.   Medley: Rock Box/Sucker MC's/Freestyle/Here We Go/Beats To The Rhyme
  69.   Live at the Apollo Raw Vocal Commerical
  70.   Lord of Lyrics
  71.   Sucker's MC
  72.   Simmons Incorporated
  73.   Let's Stay Together (Together Forever)
  74.   Rock Show
  75.   Take the Money and Run
  76.   Party Time
  77.   P Upon a Tree
  78.   Groove to the Sound
  79.   Word Is Born
  80.   Pause
  81.   Faces
  82.   What's It All About
  83.   Darryl and Joe (Krush-Groove 3)
  84.   It's Not Funny
  85.   Jay's Game
  86.   They Call Us Run-D.M.C.
  87.   What's Next
  88.   Get Open
  89.   Three Little Indians
  90.   Big Willie
  91.   3 in the Head
  92.   To the Maker
  93.   Hit 'Em Hard
  94.   Ragtime
  95.   Soul to Rock and Roll
  96.   Miss Elaine
  97.   How'd Ya Do It Dee
  98.   Can I Get It Yo
  99.   Come on Everybody
  100.   Back From Hell
  101.   Together Forever
  102.   Don't Stop
  103.   Livin' in the City
  104.   Naughty
  105.   Interlude
  106.   Penthouse Ad
  107.   Crack
  108.   Darryl and Joe
  109.   Roots, Rap, Reggae
  110.   Sucker D.J.'s
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