Run-DMC are the single most important act in hip-hop history. The trio from Hollis, in New York’s Queens district, changed the sound and attitude of rap in one fell swoop with their 1983 single It’s Like That b/w Sucker MCs.
MC’s Run (Joseph Simmons) and DMC (Darryl McDaniels) were the first great MC team. Their delivery was tough and uncompromising, taunting the listener and the ‘Sucker MCs’ that received the brunt of their vitriol.
Their ability to trade lines and finish each other’s rhymes was showcased to great effect on their self-titled debut album (1984) on the tracks Hard Times and It’s Like That, a confrontational exploration of the problems of urban life, violence, poverty, and lack of education.
When Run-DMC broke through that wall in the infamous Walk This Way video and hollered Aerosmith‘s words back into their faces, it was the single most deliberately symbolic act in modern pop history.
MTV had ignored rap until then but played Walk This Way to death. They even had to start their first dedicated rap show, Yo! MTV Raps!
By 1988’s Run’s House their decline in popularity and influence had already begun as they had a go at everything from movies to sampling The Stone Roses. Their stock fell dramatically and they learnt all about the unforgiving nature of hip-hop fans.
Run got religion, Darryl Mac had voice problems caused by drink and drugs. Albums came out fitfully and flopped. Mizell was shot and killed in a Merrick Boulevard recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, in October 2002.
Joe Simmons (MC Run)
Darryl McDaniels (DMC)
Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay)