They invented rap-rock. And now they're back to tell you about it
Before pressing ‘play’ on ‘Crown Royal’ it’s worth remembering that it’s not so much a record as a big hip-hop pyramid constructed to the greater glory of Run DMC, by Run DMC, for Run DMC. Unless you particularly care that they did everything there is to do, first (first rap band to conquer the Grammys, [I]Rolling Stone[/I], MTV and the corporate sponsorship deal), and never tire of hearing how ‘Walk This Way’ became eternally prefaced with the word “genre-defying”, then your concentration span might be stretched like cheap bubblegum.
‘Crown Royal’ sees the Hollis, Queens heroes capitalising on their, yes, boundary-breaking past by hooking up with the rock-rap heroes of today, but they’re not letting you draw your own conclusions about their importance just in case you’re not quite [I]reverent[/I] enough. “I’m the reason you started rhyming/I’m the reason rap sales started climbing/That’s why I’m still headlining…” they declare on the title track, a slab of brassy majesty so grandiose it could be sent down the Nile in a barge, taking a stance of regal majesty that rarely slips. The Bourgia-style choral gothic of ‘It’s Over’, the street nostalgia of ‘Queens Day’, featuring Nas and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, ‘Crown Royal’ all prove the emperors’ new clothes can look just as solid as their old threads.
At least, until Fred Durst lowers the tone. “I like tall girls/I like small girls/I like all the girls except the dirty call girls”, he crows on ‘Them Girls’, neglecting to realise that the latter would probably rather date an 80-year-old Republican judge than a whining fool in a red hat. It’s the point where you have to wonder how the once-alchemical concept of the rap-rock crossover drizzled down to today’s porcine squealing about bitches. Still, faith is restored a little with the kindergarten-tough ‘The School Of Old’ (rhymes with “over thirty million records worldwide we’ve sold”, of course) starring the classy Kid Rock, while the ‘King Of Rock’-sampling ‘Rock Show’ overcomes the problems associated with a Third Eye Blind collaboration to create baroque-hop reminiscent of Billy Corgan in big-shorts.
The album culminates with the celebratory ‘Simmons Incorporated’ – guest starring Method Man – and a hyper-speed 2001 take on ‘Walk This Way’.
Just in case you’d forgotten. As if you could. Run DMC have carried off the
cross-cultural exchange, and now, the cross-generational exchange is tucked under their entrepreneurial belts as well.
If it’s like being lectured by a medal-brandishing uncle, it’s forgiveable.
After all, they come from a school that
they call the old. They’re her