Hip-hop's godfather's return with a respectable, collaboration-heavy opus...
A firebrand MC recently claimed Run DMC‘s belated return was linked to American industry worries that hip-hop has become too black and out of control. He might have his reasons, but its instructive to remember Run, DMC, and Jam Master Jay pushed hip-hop into the big leagues in the first place, and that, from the days of Afrika Bambaataa onwards, hip-hop always had a cross-cultural influence.
Whether DJ’s lifted breakbeats from Led Zeppelin vinyl, scratched in hard rock riffs, or Puerto Rican and Latino B-Boys displayed breakdance moves, there has always been a cultural interchange on the underground. Run DMC were just the first, with ’83’s ‘Rock Box’, to take hip-hop hybridisation to the top of the charts.
You can’t put your hands around a memory, though, as a wag once said. And Run DMC 2001 have just come back to re-stake a claim, regain a crown, show the youngbloods a trick or two, and make more long dollars. Even if Run is now a born-again Christian – and a reverend at that – while DMC is allegedly more interested in ’60s psychedelia than hip-hop, the Queens trio still flow properly and cut a dash.
Alright, there are more guests than a rich couple’s babyshower, with everyone from Nas, Method Man and Prodigy to Kid Rock, Fred Durst and Third Eye Blind on the chip-in tip, but it’s still a Run DMC vision – one that has been delayed for over a year by the machinations of various corporate paymasters. Nor does it seem dated, thanks to Jam Master Jay’s deckwork.
From the crazy syncopation and Gregorian chants of ‘It’s Over’ inwards, the aim is towards maximum market saturation. And it would be more than a bit unusual if rock bone-crunchers like ‘Take The Money And Run’ or the playful ‘Them Girls’ were discarded, in favour of some spurious keep-it-real avant-criminology.
Run DMC don’t do that. What they land hands too, however, when it comes to the core audience, are old stomping-ground tributes (‘Queens Day’) and matter-of-fact boasts of wealth accumulation and their place in the game (‘Simmons Incorporated’). Hey, there’s life in the veterans yet.