Tuesday, September 13, 2005

CD Reissue: Run-DMC - King Of Rock

"The baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool" kicked it up a notch with King Of Rock, an album as heavy as anything Led Zeppelin ever did. Run-D.M.C. were doing the rap and rock thing long before Kid Rock, Korn or Limp Bizkit. They did it better too. Slamming beats, stun force guitars, and super def rhymes abound on Run-D.M.C.'s sophomore release now reissued by Legacy with 4 bonus cuts. If there was any doubt before that hip-hop could cross over into rock and roll, it had to be dispelled by King Of Rock.

I can trace my appreciation of Run-D.M.C. to two people; one was my mother's best friend's kid, Larry, and the other one was David Letterman. I first heard Run-D.M.C. thanks to Larry. He was around 5 years younger than me and he was really into roller skating. They were playing lots of hip-hop at the roller rink. He started talking about how great Kurtis Blow was first. Then it was "Planet Rock" followed by Grandmaster Flash. It was interesting, but I was just starting to listen to punk rock and I figured Larry was a lightweight when it came to musical appreciation. I was wrong. I was wrong to be a musical snob and I was wrong about his love of hip-hop. He became obsessed about the genre. Soon he became ahead of the game. He'd get records before they even came out and he had an insane ability to pick whether something would be big or not.

So I had heard Run-D.M.C. through him. It was my appreciation of Late Night With David Letterman that would really seal the deal. The "King Of Rock" music video features Run-D.M.C. visiting a rock and roll museum and the tour guide is Larry "Bud" Melman from Late Night. The simple fact that he was in the video got me to watch the whole thing. The genius of it all came down on me with the assault of a thousand drum machines. It was quite punk. I went out and bought the record and became one of the millions who couldn't wait to see "Jam Master Jammin'."

King Of Rock is one hell of a record from start to finish. The one-two punch of "Rock The House" and "King Of Rock" begin the show before "You Talk Too Much" adds some comic relief. It's ironic that rappers would be dissing somebody who talks too much. "Jam Mater Jammin'" could pass for industrial music. Yellowman makes a guest appearance on the dub flavored "Roots, Rap, Reggae" and Rick Rubin gets credit fo the mix to "Can You Rock It Like This" which also featured some ghost writing by LL Cool J. "You're Blind" chugs along with voices meshing so you can hear a new culture coalescing while the drum machines pound. Highlights of the bonus tracks: "Slow And Low" which would later show up on the Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill album and the performance of "King Of Rock" at Live Aid - Run-D.M.C. were the only rap act invited.

You "could use some glasses like D.M.C." if you can't see the greatness of King Of Rock. So "let the poppers pop and the breakers break" because together we can all celebrate Run-D.M.C.'s continued influence and impact. They are forever "brand new, never old school."

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