Run-DMC: 13 Black Artists Who Inspired Rock
“I’m the king of rock; there is none higher Sucker MC’s should call me sire” is the opening to King of Rock by Run DMC. Their decree holds true. Run-DMC consists of Joseph Simmons (Run), Darryl McDaniels (DMC), and Jason Mizell (Jam-Master-Jay). They are the original kings of the rap-rock genre. It’s hard to imagine the eventual evolution of bands like Korn, Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park without them.
By 1986, the band had released seven top 40 R&B hits. They broke through several barriers including becoming the first rap group to earn a gold album. A year later they received platinum for their second album. They were only the second rap act to appear on American Bandstand (Sugar Hill Gang is the first). Also, they had the first black rap (to exclude Blondie’s “Rapture”) video that gains heavy airplay on MTV with “King of Rock.”
Run DMC brought us out of that underground-only feel. They brought rap above ground and made it respectable as an art form to mainstream music.
– Ice Cube
Walk this Way
It is their third album, Raising Hell, that tore all walls down. Working with a young Rick Rueban, he suggests a collaboration between Run-DMC and Aerosmith, then a down-and-out rock band. Both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith and Run-DMC were apprehensive, but Rubin knew what he was doing. They recorded a remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way,” a top ten hit a decade earlier.
The song is a blend of Run-DMC’s hard rap cadence with Tyler’s screaming rock vocals. Perry’s guitar backs the vocals. The song is the cornerstone of the rock-rap genre, perfectly melding the two. It is the first black rap song to break the top ten on the pop charts. It also won a Soul Train award for best rap album despite the rock influence.
It’s lifestyle music. It’s not like some secretary who likes some pop song but can’t name who the band is; whereas a heavy metal fan is into every aspect of it. We’ll see if rap holds up to that. Run-DMC seemed to be the Led Zeppelin of rap. – Rob Zombie
The symbolism of the music video shows its relevance. A wall separates the two groups. Joe Perry is playing guitar and before Tyler could sing, Run-DMC begin to rap the lyrics. They continue to rap alone until Tyler smashes through the wall to scream “walk this way”. The two sides now merge into one force. Much like the Berlin wall, rap and rock will never have to remain separate forms of expression.