Wednesday, September 14, 2005

CD Reissue: Run-DMC - Raising Hell

"Cut the head off the devil and I throw it at you" - "Raising Hell"

Raising Hell is the magnum opus. It's the first rap album to make the Top Ten. It played in the 'hood, suburbia, down on the farm, even at my Grandma's house. It's where they blow the roof off the 'mutha. Run-D.M.C. were at the top of their game and Raising Hell flows and swaggers with poetry, humor, and style. The minimalism of the past is not completely gone, but producers Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin add more flair to the mix while Jam Master Jay cuts up more than ever before.

The bells from the Bob James cut "Mardi Gras" are the musical highlight of opening song "Peter Piper" which has comical fractured nursery rhyme lyrics. A sample of The Knack's "My Sharona" drives "It's Tricky" to "rock a rhyme" heaven. No doubt that the cover of "Walk This Way" helped to revive the career of Aerosmith, especially after they appeared in the video. "Hit It Run" is one of my favorites with D.M.C. doing all the rhyming while Run hits with some human beat box action. "Raising Hell" is a return to amped up hard rock with Run-D.M.C. definitely the rulers of rap and cold crushing. "You Be Illin'" has one hilarious scene after another. "Proud To Be Black" puts an explanation point on the proceedings and left me wanting more on the original release. The reissue adds a quintet of bonuses with the most enlightening being an a cappella version of "My Adidas" which rocks even without crunchy beats.

Raising Hell really takes me back when I listen to it. It sounds just as new today, but I've got so many good memories of time in the past spent with friends listening to its thumping funk. Gonz and I spent many a summer afternoon cruising around with the speakers blasting it for ourselves and the people we passed. The masses were in need of educating. Never mind that the album went gold and platinum simultaneously. One of the best things about Run-D.M.C. was how they could have incredible success without a hint of being sell outs. Nobody questioned their street cred then. I'm sure that people might have thought me and Gonz were a bit strange as we drove by rapping along to "Proud To Be Black" at the top of our voices, but there's no helping people for taste sometime.

I still rap along to the song even if I am a lily white boy. Run-D.M.C. were all about breaking down the boundaries that divide. They taught us all that "if you ain't devastating you're in bad shape." So go and devesate. Raise some hell right now.

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