Ice Cube took hip-hop to new heights with N.W.A. and elevated the genre to new levels of mainstream success. However, he knows that none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for their predecessors in the genre, namely Run DMC, who changed a young Cube’s life.
In 2016, the rapper shared an open letter about his hip-hop journey and the key moments which led to him being put on his path to superstardom. He was ten years old when The Sugarhill Gang introduced him to a new, invigorating world, and for the first time, suddenly, music made sense.
Cube then made the usual transition and moved on to Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force. But, as much as he liked their music, he simply couldn’t relate to their lives. Then, he found Run DMC, which he said: “Looked like the older homies from around my block”.
There was a familiarity to Run DMC, even though Cube had never met them, and they were from separate ends of the country; the group were discussing the same life to the one he knew.
Cube continued: “Run-DMC were the first group that I obsessed over. Their debut album, Run-D.M.C., was the first album I ever saved up to buy with my own money. As a matter of fact, me and my friend Ronnie bought the record together. I would keep it four days; he would keep it three days. Our parents thought we were crazy when we took all the shoestrings out of our shoes.”
He also noted: “Run was my favourite MC. I thought he had 1,000 per cent more swagger than any rapper of today. Ronnie loved DMC’s voice. He said nobody could ever sound like the Devastating Mic Controller. I remember the day that Dr. Dre played me the Raising Hell album. We knew we had to step our game up.
“Run-DMC took hip-hop to rock star status. They showed us how to do everything, especially how to perform with songs like ‘Here We Go.’ They showed us if you had a dope DJ you “didn’t need no band,” and that rappers from the hood could be the Kings of Rock too. I wouldn’t be a rapper today if Run-DMC didn’t show me how to do it with class.”
The legendary Run DMC carved out a path that allowed groups like N.W.A. to follow, and their influence can’t be underestimated. Cube admits that he “wouldn’t be a rapper” if it wasn’t for the trio, and he’s certainly not the only one who feels that way.