The record Chris Rock called the “first great rap album”
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The record Chris Rock called the "first great rap album"

Chris Rock is a comedic voice of the finest calibre, and after over 30 years in the limelight, he’s still in fine form today. Outside of his career, Rock is a hip-hop enthusiast, and he thinks one album elevated the genre to new heights.

Both stand-up comedy and rapping are all about flow and execution, adding weight to Rock’s opinion. Moreover, he’s been there from the start to see how hip-hop has evolved over the years, and he can pinpoint the most crucial releases in the history of rap.

During the ’80s, when Rock began stand-up as a teenager, he could feel that things were starting to change as hip-hop began to take itself more seriously thanks to one act.

Although he started comedy at a young age, it took him years to become a fully-fledged professional, and on the side to subsidise his income, Rock was a hip-hop DJ.

“I was a DJ way before I told jokes,” he revealed in 2019. “Run-DMC’s ‘Sucker M.C.’s’ taught me a lot about controlling the audience. I learned things about control and timing from playing the record at block parties that I use to this day.”

Run-DMC are a group that Rock holds in the highest regard, especially their 1986 album Raising Hell. He once revealed it was one of his favourite albums of all time and one the comedian believed positively changed the scene forever.

Raising Hell is the first great rap album ever,” he told Rolling Stone in 2004. “I like Run, but I love DMC. No one ever sounded like DMC; no one ever looks like DMC. He’s like a superhero. Raising Hell is probably Rick Rubin’s best record.

“‘It’s Tricky’ is a weird song because it’s so gangsta and pop at the same time. There’s a track on there, ‘Hit It Run’, which is just DMC with Run doing the human beatbox: ‘I leave all suckers in the dust/Those dumb motherfuckers can’t mess with us.’ It was actually the first time I heard a guy curse on a record.”

Run-DMC tore up every convention and helped make it possible for pioneers such as N.W.A. to take hip-hop to that heady next level. The golden age wouldn’t have been achievable if it wasn’t for the trio, and additionally, with Raising Hell, Run-DMC proved that rap music could lend itself to the album format and wasn’t just suited to singles.