RUN-DMC was possibly the most influential rap group ever.
Beginning in the early 80s what would 10 years later be the emergence of rap into the mainstream. Being the bridge between the original old school such as Whodini and Grand Master Flash to the new era including groups like Public Enemy and N.W.A. The three rappers from Hollis Queens, NY will be remembered in history as “the first” in many aspects including “The First Non-Athletes to endorse Adidas”
Joseph Simmons a.k.a. Run (Nov. 14, 1964 - Today)
Darryl McDaniels a.k.a. DMC (May 31, 1964 – Today)
Jason Mizell a.k.a. Jam Master Jay (January 21, 1965 - October 30, 2002)
RUN-DMC (1984) Billboard #53
RUN-DMC their first album was the first rap gold album (Considered to be the first full rap only LP aswell). The album, “RUN DMC” which was produced by Run’s brother Russell Simmons (co-founder of Def Jam Records) featured the hit singles “Rock Box” which became the first rap video on MTV and “It’s Like That” which was remixed 13 years later by Jason Nivens with massive chart success.
King of Rock (1985) Billboard #52
RUN DMC’s success mixing rap with rock guitars was proven by the amount of airplay their first video received. On this album with the help of Rick Rubin (The other Def Jam co-founder) and some more live instruments RUN-DMC would base the fact, they ROCK. King of Rock was the first rap platinum album, truly crossing over and introducing rap to many hard rock fans.
Raising Hell (1986) Billboard #3
The height of RUN-DMC’s career would have to be the multi-platinum album Raising Hell, which made it’s way into the top 10 on the Billboard Charts. Rick Rubin moving from just a guitarist to a producer and bringing in Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith for a duet which was the first hip-hop single to make it to the top 10 and the video had major exposure on MTV. The album also had hits like “You Be Illin’” and the popular “My Adidas”
Tougher Than Leather (1988) Billboard #9
The success of the group 2 and 3 years earlier lead the way for other rappers. 1988 was a great year among hip-hop Boogie Down Productions released “By All Means Necessary”, Public Enemy came out with “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince put “He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper” to wax. All very strong second albums released only a year after the debuts. But the market could only hold so much hip-hop and RUN-DMC’s rock infused rap was considered by many to be cheesy and outdated compared to non-crossover “authentic” sounding rap being done at the time. Tougher Than Leather still went platinum, but was considered a disappointment.
Back From Hell (1990) Billboard #81
Understanding that rap was in it’s own and the audience for their pioneering guitar sound had decreased, RUN-DMC went back to the basics producing the album themselves without Rick Rubin and for the first time with out Russell Simmons either. The singles “What’s It All About” and “Pause” with beats closer to the street than the coliseum did well with the rap crowd, but still not strong enough to pull the album above the mediocre. The first RUN DMC album not to go gold.
Together Forever: Greatest Hits 1983-1991 (1991)
Most of the singles mentioned above and others on this compilation. A nice addition is “Christmas in Hollis” Originally from the “A Very Special Christmas” project and is the only song RUN DMC ever recorded on the Def Jam label.
Down With The King (1993) Billboard #7
After some hard times for the group on personal issues, and their new found faith RUN DMC put out their “come back” album. 1993 was another strong year in Hip Hop but this time instead of going against the flow, the flow got credited. Names like Eric Sermon, Pete Rock, LL Cool J, Slick Rick and The Bomb Squad (and many others) can be seen on this album making it sound much more connected to it’s times than their similar attempt 3 years ago. The album went gold and earned the band respect among the modern hip hop world.
Crown Royal (2000) Billboard #37
A long time off from the studio (During which, aside from touring Run and DMC served as minister and deacon for Christian sect. Zoe while Jay actually stayed in the studio producing for Onyx and some others) but the band decides to release yet another “Come Back” album, this time featuring more mainstream artists in the foreground such as Kid Rock and Fred Durst representing rock, Method Man and Nas up for rap. Every track on this album has a duet credit. DMC barely appears on this album due to his failing voice and legal problems delayed the album’s release by almost a year. As of today, the album has failed to make gold.
Greatest Hits (2002)
Another 18 track collection, similar to Together Forever but with 8 of the songs replaced with others.
Krush Groove (1985)
Based loosely on Russell Simmons’ life RUN-DMC play themselves alongside other early rap greats like The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow & LL Cool J. “King Of Rock” and “It’s Like That” can heard on the soundtrack.
Tougher Than Leather (1988)
Again RUN-DMC play themselves. This time staring in a blaxploitation parody written and directed by Rick Rubin.
Whos’ The Man? (1993)
Cameos in the rap-star-ridden Ed. Lover and Dr.Dre hip hop comedy
Notable TV Appearances
Children’s reading show Reading Rainbow in 1983
First Rappers to appear on American Bandstand in 1985
Second Rappers ever to appear on Saturday Night Live in 1986
Soul Train in 1986
Songs from Movie Soundtracks
“Krush Groovin’” – Krush Groove (1985)
“Ghostbusters Rap” – Ghostbusters 2 (1988)
“Me, Myself and My Microphone” – Judgment Night (1993)
Special Note: smartalix says "Christmas in Hollis" was used in the movie Die Hard. It's the song playing in the limo when Bruce Willis' character gets picked up. He asks the kid driving to play some christmas music, and the kid says, "I am."
(Songs which appear on the albums also feature in several soundtracks)
Songs or Appearances on Special Projects
“Sun City” – Artists United Against Apartheid (1985)
“King Holiday” – King Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew (a Martin Luther King tribute) (1986)
Live Aid (1985)
“Christmas In Hollis” – A Very Special X-mas (1987)
“Give Peace A Chance” –Peace Choir (1991)
“Heal Yourself” – Human Education Against Lies (1991)
“Christmas Is” – A Very Special X-mas 2 (1992)
“Santa Baby” – A Very Special X-mas 3 (1997)
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – A Very Special X-mas 4 (1999)
The End of RUN DMC
Jam Master Jay was shot in the head October 30th, 2002 in a recording studio in Queens, New York. Jay died from his wound and the shooter was never captured. Jason Mizell was 37 years old at the time of his death.
R.I.P. Jam Master.
November 2002, RUN DMC is disbanded
"Nobody wants to see Run and DMC without Jay. Jay was definitely one third of the group... Run-DMC is officially retired. I can't get out onstage with a new DJ." – Run