Zack: I’m pretty well versed in hip-hop history, so I know the incredible role that Run-DMC played in its development, popularization, and commercialization. And yet while I can recognize the significance, I also have trouble appreciating the music. It’s just so one-note and dated. I feel bad saying that because Run-DMC have a very similar sound to the Beastie Boys, whom I love, but I just don’t feel the same energy that radiates off Licensed to Ill (the Beastie Boys debut album that came out 6 months after Raising Hell, Run-DMC’s third). I feel like I should probably be more laudatory to the band that influenced the Beastie Boys (and who were more….authentic to hip-hop at the time), but I just have a hard time getting excited for songs like Perfection and Dumb Girl. For me, listening to Raising Hell is a strictly academic enterprise. I wish I liked the music more, but it just doesn’t hit me with enough force.
Favorite Tracks: Raising Hell; It’s Tricky; Walk This Way
Emily: Run-DMC helped to both create modern hip-hop and to bring it into the mainstream with this album. This is particularly true for the Aerosmith collaboration Walk This Way (which has been preserved by the Library of Congress!), which I think is the song that best holds up after 30+ years. They may not have been the first to merge rap with rock, and they certainly weren't the last, but they may have done it best. Something about the thumping beat, the rhythmic rhymes, and Steven Tyler's signature screech-singing just harmoniously works together. Though Run-DMC's popularity waned by the '90s until their breakup, after which Run became a pastor and had a slew of reality shows about his family and DMC appeared on a bunch of Vh1 nostalgia shows with his trademark wide-brimmed hat (yes, of course this is how I best know both of them), their influence lives on in any rock verse on a rap song and every pair of Stan Smiths on a hip-hop artist's feet.
Favorite Tracks: Walk This Way; It's Tricky; You Be Illin'