RUN-DMC (Expanded Edition)

RUN-DMC (Expanded Edition)

Perhaps the most consequential rap album in history, Run-D.M.C.'s 1984 debut drew an Adidas-shaped line in the sand between the old school and the new school, changing everything about the way hip-hop would look, sound, and sell. After its release, live disco bands were eschewed for minimalist drum machines and DJ cuts, flashy rock-star costumes were phased out in favor of street wear, and the ten-minute-long block-party rap workouts that had defined hip-hop's formative years were shortened to the breezy length of a pop song. The breakthrough moment came with Run-D.M.C.‘s very first single, "It's Like That," and its flipside, "Sucker M.C.'s (Krush Groove 1)." Producer Larry Smith had cooked up some pummeling, minimalist drum machine beats that veered away from the baroque disco arrangements that had been making money for hip-hop pioneers like Sugar Hill Records and Kurtis Blow. After hearing Smith's harsh tracks, Run-D.M.C. manager Russell Simmons pleaded with the members of the group—which included his little brother, Joseph "Run" Simmons—to add some semblance of melody. But the group shouted down that idea—and shouted on "Sucker M.C.'s," too. The song was sparse, drum-driven, and featured some percussive record-scratching—all hallmarks of Run-D.M.C.'s high-energy, highly aggressive style. Run-D.M.C.'s second single, "Hard Times," painted a vivid, socially conscious picture on the A-side, while the B-side cut "Jam-Master Jay" spotlighted the formidable skills of the man who'd introduce the concept of turntable-as-a-band to middle America. But it was the album’s third single, "Rock Box," that gave Run-D.M.C. its first taste of pop success—and become one of the most game-changing singles in rap history. A prescient blending of undiluted hip-hop swagger and hard rock guitar, "Rock Box" would knock out critics and help put rap on MTV, where its video was put in rotation among the Van Halens and ZZ Tops of the world. More importantly, "Rock Box" single-handedly destroyed the gates—whether real or imagined—that existed between rock music and hip-hop. The origins of everyone from the Beastie Boys to Rage Against the Machine to Linkin Park to Lil Uzi Vert can be traced to the song’s 12-second mark—the moment when the wailing guitar of Hollis, Queens' own Eddie Martinez joins the beats of the Oberheim DMX drum machine. Thanks in no small part to “Rock Box,” Run-D.M.C. would become the first rap album to go gold. A year after its release, Run-D.M.C. unleashed one of its most bodacious boasts: "We crash through walls, cut through floors/Bust through ceilings and knock down doors." This album—a landmark release in the history of hip-hop, pop, androck—is what they were talking about.

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