Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube playlist of music by Run D.M.C.

What child of the 1980's does not remember the rap group Run-D.M.C.? Run-D.M.C. is commonly known as the missing link between old school rappers, such as Grandmaster Flash, and the current strain of rap music we hear today. The men of Run-D.M.C. are also credited as being pioneers of rap music, regardless of the fact that the bands they inspired eclipsed their success by the late 1980's. Run-D.M.C. still boasts the achievement of many firsts in the rap music industry, including being the first to appear on the cover of Rollingstone magazine.

Hailing from Hollis, a section of Queens, New York, Joseph Simmons (1964) (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (1964) (D.M.C.) were prompted by Run's older brother to form a rapping duo. The "duo", who were high school buddies, took Russell Simmons, the older brother, up on the offer. Russell's advice was taken quite seriously as he had formed his own record label called Def Jam with a friend, Rick Rubin.

By the time Run and D.M.C. had graduated from high school in 1982, they had decided to add a third member to the group, their friend Jason Mizell (1965 - 2002) who became Jam Master Jay. Run and D.M.C. took care of the vocals while Jam Master Jay scratched the turntables.

Run-D.M.C. had begun their pioneering in rap with their first single, "It's Like That"/"Sucker M.C.'s" in 1983. No one had heard rap music quite like this before. The vocals were very literate and Run and D.M.C. alternated lines, slightly overlapping and even finishing each other's sentences. With characteristically hard beats and simple rhythm as a backdrop, the group was the first to begin to synthesize rock and roll and rap. Run-D.M.C. soon found that the public liked their new innovative sound and were rewarded with top twenty Rhythm and Blues hits with the singles "It's Like That" and "Hard Times"/"Jam Master Jay". More R&B hits were racked up with "30 Days" and "Rock Box" even before the group released its first album, Run - D.M.C. later in 1983.

The group worked harder to fuse rock and rap in their 1985 album, King of Rock. This record featured rap vocals over heavy metal music and intense drumming. This new combination of sounds caught on like wildfire and new bands imitating Run-D.M.C.'s style were popping up everywhere. There was suddenly an onslaught of rappers in gold chains and Adidas sneakers coming onto the music scene of the mid to late 1980's.

Aside from garnering the hits "Can You Rock it Like This" and "You Talk Too Much" from the King of Rock album, the boys were also featured in the rap flick, Krush Groove (1985), with fellow rappers Kurtis Blow, the Beastie Boys and The Fat Boys.

By the 1986 release of Raising Hell, their third album, Run - D.M.C.'s rock/rap was a massive sensation. The group undertook another first when they collaborated with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith to do a rapping cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Never before had a rock group and a rap group performed together. This was the first single to catch the attention of both rock and rap fans and Raising Hell subsequently became the very first rap record to achieve number one status in R&B and get into the top ten on the Pop charts. Paving the way for many more young rappers, Run-D.M.C. was also the first rap group with a platinum album as well as the first to appear on MTV.

After huge hits with "It's Tricky" and "You Be Illn'" from Raising Hell, the group worked on their next album, Tougher Than Leather in 1987. A movie by the same name was also produced starring the band that parodied what were known in the 1970s as Blaxploitation movies. Unfortunately for Run-D.M.C., while they were working on their next releases, the rap world got a makeover. Politically charged groups like Public Enemy were suddenly in the limelight. There was no longer much interest in a crossover rock/rap group and Run-D.M.C. did not produce another record for two years.

When they did come out with a new record, Back From Hell, it was their first not to go platinum. About this same time some personal struggles arose for the lead members of the group. D.M.C. fought alcoholism while Run was accused of rape. Both members conquered their troubles and the rape charges were dismissed. They were once again producing music, although this time with a different flavor.

After having squelched their personal problems, Run and D.M.C. became born-again Christians. Their 1993 album, Down with the King relates their troubles and recent religious enlightenment. They had much support from the music world at this time and an array of famous performers collaborated with them on the album. Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and Naughty By Nature were just of few of the bands to help Run - D.M.C. to make a comeback. Though the album only went gold, it was obvious with that the massive support showed by other members of the music world that Run-D.M.C. has still made quite an impact in music.

In 2001, the group attempted another comeback with the album Crown Royal. This album included collaborations with Kid Rock, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, Method Man and Everlast.Tragically, Jason Mizell was shot and killed while working in the studio in 2002. A complete and current discography is availabe, above, at AllMusic.

Page author: N.G. & C.F.