“I’m the king of rock/there is none higher/sucker emcees should call me sire/to form my kingdom/you must use fire/I won’t stop rocking till I retire.” And with that Run-DMC took hip-hop from the boroughs of NY to the brink of mainstream prominence.
Before Rick Rubin put his minimalist stamp on the group, Run-DMC was the first hip-hop group to make Rock and Roll cool in the hood. With King Of Rock, that standard was furthered, as the trio did not stray far from the formula they crafted on their self-titled debut; wailing guitars, booming kick drums, crisp snares and more cowbells please then Will Ferrell could shake a stick at remained evident on “King Of Rock,” “Can You Rock It Like This” and “Rock The House.” Though King Of Rock was bigger and louder, it was also the trio’s first foray into expanding their repertoire, as they delved into reggae and dancehall (“Roots, Rap, Reggae”) and their hooks even got a bit catchier, as “You Talk Too Much” & “It’s Not Funny” could not help but become instantly ingrained into your memory.
One of the discs most alluring re-issue features are its bonus tracks, one of which includes the “Slow And Low” demo, which Run-DMC eventually gave to the Beastie Boys after determining it sounded too much like “Together Forever”; Rick Rubin would later re-work it into one of the more rowdy and hook driven tracks on the Beasties landmark debut Licensed To Ill.
While Run and DMC were never more than average emcees, it wasn’t so much what they had to say, but how they said it (“the baddest of the bad/the coolest of the cool”) as their chemistry and charisma (which if witnessed live was even more alluring) were off the charts. Jam Master Jay’s contributions were often overlooked, but along with Larry Smith, the duo’s aggressive, rock infused production became the group’s backbone and propelled them to visionary status; and not to be ignored, the last two-minutes of “Darryl & Joe” (Krush Groove 3) became the blueprint for anything instrumental based for the remainder of the 80′s.
While King Of Rock is not a classic LP in the typical sense, it remains forever indelible because of the era it punctuated (Run-DMC) and the one it would spawn shortly thereafter (Raising Hell). It was the sound, the vibe, the style (Adidas should still be cutting them checks) of the trio that made Run-DMC more then a Hiphop group; it made them a movement that would forever alter the hip-hop landscape.
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