Record of the Day: Run DMC – ‘Run’s House’

Taken from their 1988 album Tougher Than Leather, Run’s House is Run DMC’s frank and open celebration of how sensational Run DMC are!

We have a whole lot of superstars on this stage here tonight

And it’s quite a celebration. Over a funky drummer beat modified to BOOM and horn samples from The Soul Searchers’ Ashley’s Roachclip, it’s essentially three-and-half minutes of intricately rhymed self-congratulation.

Well my name is DMC, the all-time great
I bust the most rhymes in New York state
Reporters clock, producers jock
They want to be down with the king!
The wanted man from the wanted clan
Wanted by every fan across the land
Not a G.A.N.G off the street
R.U.N. D.M.C. complete!

It’s fine though because Run DMC were right at the top of the game back then. They could back up the bragging.

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1988 was a great year for hip hop music – for some people, it marks the start of the genre’s golden age. Certainly, as rap’s appeal widened it was beginning to be taken a lot more seriously. ‘88 saw the release of an array of seminal albums including Boogie Down Productions’ By All Means Necessary, Straight Outta Compton by NWA, Power by Ice-T and It Takes A Nation Of Millions… by Public Enemy.

Thirty years later, Run DMC’s Tougher Than Leather looks like a snug fit amongst these other classics, but back at the time it was seen as a watered-down, complacent follow-up to Raising Hell (1986). Here’s what Cary Darling said in Rolling Stone:

“No matter how good some of the new material is, there’s an underlying timidity on Tougher Than Leather that is troubling. Perhaps the group has been shackled by success, because there’s nothing on the album as uncompromising as earlier tracks like “Hard Times,” “It’s Like That” and “Proud to Be Black.” It seems as if Run-D.M.C. has let the likes of Public Enemy and Ice T take over the more militant and politically aware hip-hop turf.”

Run DMC Tougher Than Leather cover

In retrospect, Carly Darling’s review looks to have nailed it exactly. Run DMC had peaked and the ground-breaking group that had owned ‘80s hip-hop were indeed about to be overtaken by other acts on the trail they’d blazed. But that’s all history now, and material like Run’s House is standing the test of time very comfortably.

Anyway, If 1988 does mark the beginning of hip-hop’s golden age then Run DMC get the credit for being a major catalyst in the reaction that followed. Everyone who came after them owed them a debt. They were still in Run’s House.

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Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

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