Hip-hop music continued to move forward in the mid ‘80s, and no act realized more initial mainstream success during this time than Run DMC. With “Rev Run” Simmons and Darryl McDaniels (DMC) on dueling vocals and Jam Master Jay as the DJ, they set the stage for many acts who followed in their footsteps. Their debut album, “Run-D.M.C”, is the 378th rated album of all time on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Deep from the heart of Queens, their first album is a pretty simple and basic sound. The format is pretty similar from song to song, with a steady beat and limited keyboard and the occasional guitar, with the yell-chant consistent vocal patterns from the two MCs. The biggest success from this album was their first single “It’s Like That”, followed by the first song on the album, “Hard Times”. As much as I love hip-hop and can appreciate the historical significance of this record, I don’t consider it an album I really liked or want to listen to again. I tend to prefer a smoother rap delivery and some funkier bass grooves as the foundation, and this is just a little too straight up, and frankly, uninteresting in comparison to a lot of the music that would follow.
That said, I will always respect not only this first step, but other unique steps they took subsequently, such as partnering with Aerosmith to re-do “Walk This Way”, bringing the sound of rap and hip-hop to a much wider and more mainstream audience. As we stand here now in 2021 with hip-hop dominating the charts, it can be hard to recall back when rap was fighting for attention and airplay as a mostly underground genre but Run-D.M.C. will always be one of the biggest influencers in the growth and expansion of hip-hop, and they also cemented New York City as the ongoing home of hip-hop… at least for now.