Since October of 1955, when Norman Mailer and co. founded The Village Voice as a weekly paper for bros of the leftist pinko persuasion, we’ve done our dutiful best to preserve every word ever printed in our pages, tucking them away in our vast archival editorial library (pictured above). This summer, we slogged deep into the back issues to find the most interesting articles about a few Big Shot Bands From Way Back When, which we then scanned and dumped into this here blog for a little #tbt feature we’re calling “Deep Voice.” (Get it?)
In this week’s installment, we look back at a few old articles about Hollis, Queens heroes Run-DMC and find 1) a 1985 feature by the always on-point Greg Tate about a near-riot at a Run-DMC show at the Beacon and the complicated racial politics of this new form of black expression, “They’re Gonna Smash Their Brains in” 2) an ’86 archive classic, “It’s Like This,” by John Leland 3) a feature about the group by “The Media Assassin” himself, Harry Allen and 4) a few more cool odds an ends for you to get nostalgic over. To the bound issues!
See also: Ad-Rock Hated “Faggots” and Other Beastie Boys Revelations Gleaned From Our Archives
Hip-hop’s hook of the season is “It’s Like That,” by Run-D.M.C. and Orange Krush. Producers Larry Smith and Russell Simmons (half the credits on Kuris Blow’s “Tough”) have cut a “stiff and nervous” beat/sound dominated by a mechanical web of bass bams and snare wacks aimed in part at the new wave club market. Its elemental starkness has an eerie European existential alienation all over it and it’s a hit on (black) radio. Stiff and nervous Babylon ’83. The question haunting rap is, what lies beyond the “it’s bullshit” motif? Alienation? “Money is the key to end all your woes….Whatever happened to unity?…Disillusion is the word/I just go through life with my glasses blurred/It’s like that/And that’s the way it is….If you really think about it, times aren’t that bad.”
Anyway, the mix of battering-ram percussion and rough vocals succeeds as polyrhythmic dance and hard-rock compulsion. The real breaks come in the syncopated interplayof drunk and electronic shakere rhythms set against corrosive lyrics in “Sucker M.C.’s” (“You don’t even know your English/Your verbs or nouns/ You’re just a sucker M.C./You sad face clown”). Too bad this percussive clamor’s so far from the melodic heart behind John Henry’s hammer. But the lack of real emotion in Run-D.M.C.’s recent show at the Roxy was completley overshadowed by the dark brilliance of Bambaattaa and Islam swinging this new Shango thing and jamming rhythm and sound textures as so many subtexts pointing at “One Nation Under a Groove.”
– Gary Jardim
[4/9/1985]They’re Gonna Smash Their Brains In
By Greg Tate
Riding Amtrak between Baltimore and Wilmington the train passes a factory with this insignia inscribed on its side: “Goetze’s Caramel Creams.” Being in the black humor line I immediately grasp the commodity value of this chance sighting. Metaphor is my business, an overweened sense of irony my stock in trade.
Just the other day I was thinking Michael Stewart could’ve been Jean Michel Basquiat in his dread period. Certainly he was lynched for committing the same “criminal act” which put both Basquiat and Keith Haring on tap and in the money. Some guys really do have all the luck. The other night a colleague looks out her Lower East Side window and sees a black guy and a white guy about to rumble; squad car pulls up, two cops jump out, throw the brother up against the wall, jam the nightstick to his throat and let the white guy go along his merry way. And this black guy was so preppy looking she told me. Reminding me of Stevie Wonder’s line about how you might have the cash but you can’t cash in your face. But black folk take themselves at face value too. The other night on the D train I got an Asian couple sitting across from me who seem to be romantically involved. Seated next to them is one very unpreppy B-boy prototype. Couldn’t tell you whether his emotional life was seething or somnolent. You know, one brand of racist mythology speaks of the inscrutable Oriental, another of the evil nigger, but homeboy’s mug is more illegible to this black brother than any foreign face I’ve ever seen. Deadpan? No, homes’s visage in a black hole, light may pour in but none shines out. To these eyes he’s a cipher begging for decoding, a signifier crying out for deconstruction and like Bernhard Goetz I’m free to ascribe an negative cast I choose to his character: violent nigger, stupid nigger, evil nigger. The difference and social distance I presume between his blank categories and my powers of categorization, between his presumed unintelligence and my arrogance of intellect grant me this privilege. Forget that given another set of eyes the target for such prejudices could be me or Basquiat, Melle Mel or, for the sake of reportorial relevance here, Run-D.M.C.
Before we go on, consider for a moment that if hiphop does nothing else, it at least draws a few black youth out of the firing lines; forces folk to see some young black men as something other than things, as possibly possessing a little intelligence, even if only for the duration of an MTV video. Let’s call this the liberal position. For a less tolerant view, cut to the Run-D.M.C. show I walked out on at the Beacon last Saturday (the late show, not the 7 p.m. which went smoothly) not because I walked in on the sight of several hundred black teenagers standing on their seats screaming “do that shit, do that shit” in a game of call and response with a deejay, but because, when people started running out of the orchestra doors yelling about a rumble in the balcony my partner-in-crime and I decided that given the vibes, it was time for our bourgeois black bohemian behinds to get the fuck out of Dodge. Passing, on the way, three cracked plate glass doors and several billy-club swinging gendarmes commanding the scene in front. From a photographer friend trapped backstage I heard somebody was stabbed later that night, that after Run-D.M.C. left the stage pandemonium erupted when somebody said they heard a gun go off, that when she left the theater she hadn’t seen as many cops since the Detroit riots and for the first time in her life she was afraid to be around her own people. Waiting to catch the train she witnessed some of those let out from the show launching Coke bottles at passing trains and applauding themselves as passengers ducked for cover.
From the gitgo, black music of one kind or another, jazz, blues, rock n’ roll, has been charged with promoting sexual promiscuity and perversion, drug abuse, devil worship, crime and violence. Charges which are only as true as they are half the story. Black musical forms have always been born in dangerous milieus, which they sometimes promulgated and sometimes transcended, and hiphop continues the genealogical imperative. Don’t think I didn’t get depressed like a mother-fer-ya (yeah, literally) when homegirl told me about the bottle-throwing episode, but I still believe hiphop can become more the cure of the condition of black underclass youth than a symptom of it. If for no other reason than that they listen to it like they listen to nothing and nobody else. This doesn’t mean it’s a panacea (sorry, I ain’t that naive), but it can maybe make a few stop and think – especially if they’re taking notes from sources as credible as Run-D.M.C.
Always dug Run-D.M.C. because they dressed like they weren’t ashamed to be identified with the stone B-Boys. Like, Melle Mel once said the reason the Furious Five took to the chains and leather look was to match for visual aggression the rock and funk groups they began touring with after “The Message.” Which is funny, considering that the aggression some folk already perceive in less flashy black fashion is tantamount to asking for a couple bullets in the back. Under the circumstances Run-D.M.C.’s stance as raphappy fashion risks could be mistaken for a mere stab at intimidation – except remember that hiphop began as a subculture of resistance to, among other things, the Saturday Night Fever school of leisure wear, and that Run-D.M.C. were dressing down by law long before they made it on MTV. The trashing of a rock museum they do in the new “King of Rock” video proves they can cross over without compromising, and with a vengeance at that. What’s even hipper about them than their remarkable ability to adapt to market demands and maintain their authenticity is their other way of eating their cake and having it too: taking license to crack incisively on the white and black culture alike without missing a beat. One minute they’re class-leveling Calvin Klein in language both Marxes would appreciate (Karl and Groucho) the next they’re giving Fs in English to all the other sucker MCs. Shades of Booker T. Washington’s bootstrap philosophy of black economics turn up often enough to make the point they believe in black self-help; invocations of Murphy’s Law as criminal deterrent pop out enough to convince they don’t believe crime pays. In their best raps they use braggadocio to taunt and inspire their audience; their best interviews find them hammering the message home to their peers to stay in school and get that piece of paper. Certainly nobody on the scene, outside of Ramm-El-Zee and Melle Mel, delivers more literate and thought-provoking lines than the duo.
The question is whether intellectual types and MTV vidkids aside, Run-D.M.C.’s message is getting through to the other(if not their primary one) target audience, namely the hardrocks in the Beacon crowd. The funk-metal truncheons on their new King of Rock have secured their hold on the MTV crew, the dazzling dithyrambic invention of tips like “You’re Blind” will keep the eggheads occupied with their exegeses for days. But penetrating the mentalities of the hardrocks is going to take more of a headcharge than Run-D.M.C. got the voltage supply. Now, you could say that since nobody elise is reaching the hardrock posse, reaching out to them even, that making the attempt is the most that can be asked of the brothers. But in the wake of the Beacon and shit like the bottle throwing, that leaves me thinking the rest of us best jump on the bandwagon and quick. Maybe at least try telling Michael, Lionel, Diana, and Ray that charity begins at home.
It’s Like This
By JOHN LELAND
You can almost see her now, accepting her award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement – Sylvia Robinson, that is, president of Sugar Hill Records – thanking “all the little people who made this possible.” By which she’ll mean folks like Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel and the Funky Four Plus One and the Treacherous Three. She couldn’t have done it without them.
Robinson founded the rap industry by creating little people. As the first important rap producer, she reformulated a street phenomenon that had been booming citywide since the early ’70s; with the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979 she dictated what a rap record was. It must have been a shock for the first groups to go into the studio and emerge with a goddamn band behind their rhymes. After all, they were already neighborhood stars using turntables and microphones, building crews around DJs who became mere titular heads once the studio tape started rolling. But the lean funk of the Sugar Hill house band suddenly redefined the sound of rap music, just as the recording process redefined success. The old methods no longer cut it, anymore than being number one in the park applied as the measure of success. Overnight, rappers became dependent on producers. Sugar Hill ruled the new industry by being able to reproduce its sound. And the rappers’ formulaic boasts only made it easier for Robinson to reduce them to beneficiaries of her hit-making machine.
Following Sugar Hill’s lead, producers built machines to duplicate hit records. Left-field flukes like Schoolly-D’s “P.S.K. – What Does It Mean?”/”Gucci Time” notwithstanding, virtually all hit rap records either come out of or generate production machines. If you follow the machines – or their interlabel equivalents, sequels and ripoffs – rather than the artists, it’s easy to see why records become hits. Doug E. Fresh didn’t get a machine going after “La-Di-Da-Di,” another fluke, so Dana Dane moved in with “Nightmares” and Just-Ice with “Latoya,” both blatant imitations that the core hip hop audience embraces without reservation. Full Force and Hitman Howie Tee stamp their golden pop imprint on UTFO, the Real Roxanne, and Whistle. Mantronik’s chilled beatbox methodology produces interchangeable hits for Mantronix and Trickee Tee. Larry Smith’s electrofunk is the essence of Whodini. Rick Rubin will continue to build the Def Jam catalogue by remaking “Sucker M.C.’s” until people stop buying it. And the Roxanne saga (and to a lesser extent, the current Pee-wee craze) proves that if you have a winning formula, you can plug any rapper into it.
Take away that formula, however, and even successful rap acts founder. The Sugar Hill roster for the most part disappeared after the label abandoned its system to copy Tommy Boy’s; that is, after Robinson answered Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s “Planet Rock” with “The Message.” For all its ground-breaking impact, the song marked the end of Sugar Hill’s machine. House drummer Keith LeBlanc had already left the label, and the rest of the rhythm section followed, to be replaced, along with the Chops horn section, by one-man-band Reggie Griffin. In turn, the Tommy Boy acts, particularly Bambaataa, faded when the label stopped using Arthur Baker and John Robie, the builders of its machine.
Run-D.M.C. are the first rappers to dominate their production system. Even when they worked with larry Smith, Run (Joseph Simmons), D.M.C. (Daryll McDaniels), and Jam-Master Jay (Jason Mizell) always poked their heads outside the machine. They taked about how cool they were (anonymous machine fuel), but also about who they were: where they lived, why they wore those glasses, where they went to college. On their first 12-inch, “It’s Like That”/”Sucker M.C.’s,” they stripped their sound of all music, which was the producers’ handle on hip hop. With just beats and rhymes, they brought rap closer to its original state before the producers took it out of the reach of ordinary schmucks. The single demystified the recording process. A rapper needed access to another world – and a horn section – to make “That’s the Joint,” but anyone with the conviction could have made “Sucker M.C.’s” By denying the trappings that the machine postulates as the essence of recorded rap, they vanquished the myth of the rapper as an elevated being.
Run-D.M.C.’s myth was like Rocky to everyone else’s Apollo Creed. It had to be a myth; no one could possibly be that square. But like Stallone’s (or Mellencamp’s or Springsteen’s), their myth was more relevant for its roughness, as they offered regular-Joe visions of sex appeal (“If you’re looking for a pet I’ll buy a kangaroo,” from “30 Days”); advice (“Try the school or the church,” from “It’s Like That”); integrity (“Calvin Klein’s no friend of mine/Don’t want nobody’s name on my behind,” from “Rock Box”); and glamour (“Cold chill at the party in a b-boy stance,” from “Sucker M.C.’s”). They were the first rappers to embrace the nobility of the common b-boy. As three middle-class college kids from the suburban Hollis, Queens, they romanticized the street character that other rappers rejected. Message MCs condemned the street. Boastful rhymers conquered by Cadillac. But Run-D.M.C. aligned their image with their street audience. By comparison, the Fat Boys, Whodini, L.L. Cool J, the Sugar Hill Gang, UTFO, Doug E. Fresh, and even Melle Mel all stand above or beyond or somehow apart from day-to-day b-boy life. Run-D.M.C. force you to confront them as people, not as fantasies.
Their career has taken off from two last-minute decisions. The first was to put raps on teh bonus beat to “It’s Like That,” which became “Sucker M.C.’s,” the most influential record in second-wave hip hop. The second was the move by Russell Simmons – Run’s older brother, group manager, and Def Jam cofounder – to replace a synthesizer line on “Rock Box” with heavy metal guitar. “Rock Box” tempted them with a new sound, and they took the bat. They made last year’s King of Rock, a producer’s album and a transparent attempt to cross over. Before this album, they’d equated ambition with artificiality, and the excesses on King of Rock, an album they’ve since disavowed, reaffirmed their conservatism.
On their new LP, Raising Hell (Profile), co-produced by Run and Jay with Simmons and Rubin, the group again cuts the crap. Raising Hell is their least ambitious and best record. It’s like their ’84 debut, with a few important differences. Run-D.M.C. was a reactionary aesthetic coup that Raising Hell could never be, because Raising Hell doesn’t advance a new way to make music. It simply finishes what the first album started by making the beats a little harder, a little louder. The rhythms are still mostly electronic, but they swing more like a human drummer. It’s as if, having effectively killed off Sugar Hill-style r&b-based rap, the group is now letting some r&b back in.
Raising Hell is startlingly raw. It cracks along seams, wild dynamic convulsions that are common in shows with scratch DJs, but never make it onto record; production machines traditionally replace DJ’s in the studio. Raising Hell nearly captures the sonic collisions of Run-D.M.C.’s live performance; it stutters, hesitates, and explodes with the jerky rhythm of a DJ. And the seams are the best part – anyone can make a beatbox keep time; it takes inspiration to know how and when to fuck up.
They’ve also found a new way to fuck up on their lyrics. In place of the awkward sermonizing of the debut, Run-D.M.C. hang their quasi-populist lack of ambition on deliberate dumbness. “Peter Piper” weaves a string of nursery rhymes; “It’s Tricky” is about how hard it is to make a rhyme; “My Adidas” is about sneakers; “Walk This Way” is an Aerosmith cover; “Perfection” talks about pet insects; “You Be Illin'” revels in someone else’s stupid behavior; and “Dumb Girl” is a cautionary view of the female libido that’s best left alone. It’s disappointing that a group has never matched the one-liners of the first album, and that Raising Hell‘s best (“It’s McDaniels, not McDonald’s/These rhymes are Daryll’s, the burgers are Ronald’s”) appears twice. The exception to the stupidity is “Proud to Be Black,” the one forceful indication that Run-D.M.C. can see beyond its middle-class orthodoxy. For once their stay-in-school aphorisms won’t solve the problem, and Run-D.M.C. turn their crunch into the rebellion of a yes-man betrayed.
You can make a lot out of the Aerosmith collaboration (their record company certainly hopes to) but the song merely echoes the album’s conservatism. It’s safer to remake “Walk This Way” than to write an original, especially after the failure of most of the guitar songs on King of Rock. Rubin suggested the collaboration after reading Chuck Eddy’s Aerosmith review in the Voice [January 7]; this anecdote for a future episode on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous illustrates why Run-D.M.C. were right to insist that rappers are just plain folks. The album’s other guitar song, the title track, is like “King of Rock” done as AC/DC instead of Spinal Tap.
Guitar tunes aside, Raising Hell isn’t a star’s vehicle. As hard as it hits; the album is workmanlike, without indulgence, or flamboyance. Run-D.M.C. don’t allow themselves the latitude they had on King of Rock. No Beatles or Michael Jackson references, no reggae – just rap, like a repentent sinner returning to the fold. The only new additions to the Run-D.M.C. lexicon are established b-boy fare: the scratch dynamics, the “La-Di-Da-Di” hommage in “Perfection,” the human beatbox on “Hit It Run.”
Like Run-D.M.C., Raising Hell is more a purgation than a breakthrough. But that’s what Run-D.M.C. like all good conservatives, do best. For all their success, and this album is going to sell loads, they still deny the temptations of escape and upward mobility (they sound like they’re bullshitting about their fancy cars, telling the truth about their sneakers). This is a matter for celebration and concern: the album’s triumph is that it fulfills their promise and seemingly leaves no room for improvement. How can it get any harder? Raising Hell is the pure b-boy aesthetic, without apology. Without the machine.
Run Which Way?
By Harry Allen
Seen Run-D.M.C.’s new album? Right above three AdidasLee-clad lads (Jam Master Jay appears on the front cover for the first time) in a close-cropped, electric blue, no-man’s landscape are, appropriately, these letters:
They’re nearly a thousand times larger than they appear here, taking up over 60 square inches of jacket space. You’d think it was the album’s title, until you looked more closely and saw the half-dollar-sized cipher hovering next to D.M.C.’s leg like an in-flight soccer ball: Tougher Than Leaher (Profile).
What would you do if you woke up one morning and hanging above your head, in six-ton letters so big the whole planet could see them, was your name? If you’re like most people, you’d probably move out of the way. But suppose you did, and the letters followed you? And suppose the only way that you could get from under them would be if you made a hip-hop album and sold 10,000,000 copies, one at a time?
Well, you might go and make Grand-Master Flash and the Furious Five’s On the Strength (Epic), or Boogie Down Productions’ By All Means Necessary (Jive). And you’d be all right. You’d be in there.
Then again, you might not do that. “This album is wack,” one brother broke bluntly after listening to my copy of Tougher Than Leather. Picking up the jacket and pointing to the Kings from Queens: “They look kinda lost, don’t they?” Then, flipping it over: “They should have made this the title,” pointing to the song name, “Soul to Rock and Roll.”
Curious. How does one chart this supposed sold-to-r&r trip that the Run-D.M.C. crew has taken into the limelight’s green light, five years after We got boot-knocked by “Sucker M.C.’s”? Well, Crew made the seam-searing “Roc Box,” some people said, “Hey! Gee-tars! I can understand this!” Crew did a video, began their career as hip-media darling-underdogs. Then they kicked the atomic “King of Rock” (with video), and King of Rock became the first hip-hop album on a CD (functional contradiction: a hip hop album that could not be cut or scratched). Crew continued capitalization on their rhymes and coolly distinct silhouette, left their sneaker laces in the boxes, excited and scared the flaxen-haired, and em-bare-assed bunches of Black bourgeoisie.
When Crew did “Walk This Way,” a hip-hop remake of an arena-rock classic (the original is still harder), mass orgasm was inevitable. (And that’s what it’s all about, right? Everybody coming together through music? Was it as good for me as it was for you?) “Walk” forthrightly sealed Crew’s historical place as the Chuck Berries of hip-hop, allowing them the wherewithal to drop drops of this happy music’s flavor into the midst of the melting plot. They will again do so on the “Run’s House” tour this summer, then all over the third planet – Abidjan to Belgrade to New Delhi to…with Amnesty International dates after that. Hurray for Harare.
Success didn’t come easy. Run’s lung collapsed once. Artwork for Run-D.M.C.’s Spin cover got held up twice: once when the magazine gosh-just-plain-forgot to shoot the photo for this article, and twice when someone sent Beastie Boys flicks to the printing plant as a joke, and nobody caught it. Somebody got silly in Cali, and now self-conscious NYC says, “No MSG [Madison Square Garden], please,” when offered fress-Lee-done hip-hop. Run.-D.M.C. sued their record company, and their record company thoughtfully returned the favor. Everything’s settled there, though. Profile has to give them a bigger and deffer percentage, and they have to give Profile 10 more albums.
Meanwhile, the crew pressed on, completing a movie (yet to be talked back to), a book (hip-hop’s first authorized biography and a definitive, insightful text by Rush publicist Bill Adler), and an album (read on), all called Tougher Than Leather. They got their own line of kicks (one snakeskin-set model is nearly $110), got Max Headroom to do the Wop, got big dookie ropes as thick as their ever-expanding possee, and only last month got the Spin cover (17 months after Rolling Stone). So, it’s clear how hip-hop, or “rap,” as it’s called by its less knowledgable, more media-conscious practitioners and observers, became synonymous with “Run-D.M.C.” in certain circulars, though this ain’t necessarily really so, or so positive a development. That fact came home most forcefully once while I was TV-viewing Run-D.M.C. do “Walk This Way” for the 602nd time and realizing that they were birthin’ music for lotsa white folk who, in 2004 or so, when there’s a 3-D-Holo-Feelie exclusive on Channel 500 (“Twenty-Five Years of Rap!”), will get the “honor” of watching “some of music’s greats”; three then-balding men doing that record a 603rd time.
Like my point-blank associate, some would listen to Tougher and say, “Yo, Run went out. Too much gui-tars.” And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. While “Rock Box” and “King of Rock” were stoopid-crusty hip-hop odes, thinking “r&r” when listening to the ripped-up, Monkees’ take-off, “Mary, Mary,” or to “Miss Elaine,” makes these new cuts feel funky; thinking “hip hop” makes them feel wi-wi-wishy-washy. It’s the same feeling I got when I first heard “Can You Rock It Like This,” or saw the “You Talk Too Much” video and thought, “Why?” If we’d wanted soft-rock hip-hop, we’d call in the Beach-Fat Boys. Maybe when we learn the dance you’re supposed to do to “Papa Crazy” we’ll feel better about it. Until then, yeah, brothers, you got more FM radio-white fans now. How do you rock ’em in the pocket for an album length without losing Us?
You go harder still. Clean the record. Rock the B-side. “Beats to the Rhyme” sounds dually cold as a sky-dive and fevered as an underwater lava flow. “Run’s House” is a cut that, to truly appreciate, you’ve got to feel loud, in the middle of a packed, rockin’ gig, or comin’ out of a ’66 Olds doin’ 90 down Merrick Blvd. It’s probably also the cut to see the crew do live. “Tougher Than Leather” (like “Raising Hell” was for its disc) is the title-cutting Black-rock-coalition, with its “Theme From Shaft” licks and crunch-bass droppin’ bombs out of Hype Party Heaven. But like “Hit It Run” (Krush-Groove 5 if they hadn’t stopped counting after “Together Forever”) was on Raising Hell, “They Call Us Run-D.M.C. (would-be Krush-Groove 6) is the album’s REAL rock cut and its best jam; disruptive vocals and “Catch a Groove” Juice dripping all over metallic, heat-shielded beats. As Run and Dee twist whole stanzas into gold-vocal ropes of aural wild-style, the Dee-Jay-Run posse (Run-D.M.C. + hyper-elite production shockmaster Davy D) set up a percussion mill that fringes on core meltdown. Get out the Coppertone, you all. Also, a fricative 32-second bonus beat at the end of the title-cut just screams to be rocked into a 15-minute final heat by a dj with the right stuff, as does the 10-second cake of noise and rap intro-ing “How’d Ya Do It Dee.” Booty music, knowhumsayin’?
D.M.C. gets first prize in the “Most Improved Rapper” category for his drunken, spiral-shaped vocals on “Radio Stations,” and, since the last album, he’s been solidly sounding more and more like Joe’s equal. And though Run and Whodini’s Ecstasy are possibly the only rappers that can make voice-cracking sound fly, there’s nothing as natural or comfortable as Jay’s casual “Whassup” at the beginning of “Ragtime.” At the same time Run’s vocal on the cut so resembles Slick Rick’s on “La-Di-Da-Di” that it might only be seen as an affectionate tribute. The disappearance of the Run-D.M.C. Presents… new rapers album project, and the appearance of vocal forms pipingly similar to project unheards Serious-Lee-Fine on cuts like “Together,” “They Call Us,” “I’m Not Going Out Like That,” etc., would indicate influence to some in-the-know. Still, others might be reminded of the sci-fi TV series V, on which earthlings are cocooned by invading aliens in order to be chewed up for nourishment later. In either case, it’s a lyrical development to be pondered in slowly widening circles.
One brother said that the best thing Run-D.M.C. could’ve done was go back to the egg and have EPMD produce this album. “Could you imagine Run kickin’ shit over the music from ‘You Gots To Chill’?” Yup ‘n nope. Would’ve been a hellacious, downward, dope(word!) move. For now, Tougher Than Leather‘s got Us waiting for Run & ‘Em to put “Sucker M.C.’s,” “Hollis Crew,” “Rock Box,” “Jam-Master Jay,” “King of Rock,” “Jam-Master Jammin’,” the beautiful “Daryll and Joe” (once described to me by DJ Scot LaRock as a “symphony in scratch”), “Rock the House,” “Peter Piper,” “My Adidas,” “Hit It Run” and “They Call Us Run-D.M.C.” all on a greatest slits album, to be aptly titled Run-D.M.C.’s Cold Rock Stuff. But it’ll never happen.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2013