Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.: #424 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Run-D.M.C. - Run-D.M.C.

So why is Run-D.M.C. on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

I’ve been tough (tougher than leather?) on our old friend Stephen Thomas Erlwine over at All Music at times. But credit where due: his assessment that Run D.M.C. are music pioneers who adapted “the sound and attitude of hard rock to hip-hop” is spot on.

Run D.M.C., the rap outfit’s self-titled debut album, feels so powerful and timeless to this day because of its wildly sparse production mapped against hard rock samples and old school rap delivery that hits you in the face like a well-aimed sledgehammer.

While in the research phase for this here best 1,000 albums ever project, I jotted down the following with regard to “Hard Times”:

“Hard Times” sounds so fresh today; it must have exploded boomboxes back in ’84.

One of my favorite things, as aside, is when I amuse myself with stuff that I wrote that I have zero recollection of coming up with. It helps of course that with this project alone, I’ve written and published hundreds of thousands of words (and counting!).

Which is all to say that “Hard Times” goes… let’s just say hard. It’s spare and raw and it rocks.

“It’s Like That” is a better version of “Hard Times” in some respects. There’s something about the rap/melody that locks into my brain in such a pleasing way with this one, and the line, “It’s like that, and that’s the way it is,” is simply iconic.

I completely assumed that the wild guitar part on “Rock Box” was sampled from an early ‘80s hard rock or hair metal band, but it turns out it’s an original piece by session player Eddie Martinez. In any event, it sets a blazing hard rock groove that completely sets Run-D.M.C. apart from nearly all of the funky party-centric hip hop being produced at that time.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Run-D.M.C.

I’ll have more to say when we get there (spoiler alert!), but Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell and the Beastie Boys’ debut album, License to Ill, were hugely influential on my young musical mind when I was a kid. And I think growing up in the Long Island suburbs of New York City, east of Queens where Run-D.M.C. hails from, has a place in this.

Run-D.M.C. the album came out before that era – 1984 versus 1986 – so I was still mostly steeped in the music getting heavy MTV play, like “Jump,” by Van Halen, and “When Doves Cry,” by Prince during that era.

Some stats & info about Run-D.M.C.

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Golden Age, Hardcore Rap, Old School Hip Hop
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #378
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Run-D.M.C. released? 1984
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #424 out of 1,000

Run-D.M.C. on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Run-D.M.C.that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Don’t ask me, because I don’t know why, but it’s like that, and that’s the way it is.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.