Rev Run is an icon in hip-hop and was a member of one of the most ground-breaking rap acts of all time, the legendary 1980s trio Run-DMC. The three-piece outfit from the Hollis neighbourhood of Queens rose to fame alongside crews such as Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys when producers began experimenting with the sonics of hip-hop. Run-DMC, comprised of Rev Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay, were known for their ingenious fusion of rap music with other genres and were ultimately responsible for crossing hip-hop into the mainstream.
Run-DMC were definitely ahead of the curve with their music and had a powerhouse producer behind them in Rick Rubin. One of the crew members was brothers with a young Russell Simmons, and the group did not hesitate to utilise his business acumen to land a record deal. From here, they were unstoppable.
The collective’s rise to dominance began during the mid-1980s boom-bap era. However, electro was also beginning to flourish during this period. With so many sonic shifts occurring and subgenres thriving, Run-DMC had to find a niche, and that they did. Rick Rubin managed to hit the jackpot while experimenting with hip-hop with rock. The trio’s mainstream renown was almost instant when they released their debut single ‘It’s Like That/Sucker MCs’.
It wasn’t quite rock music but wasn’t instantly recognisable as hip-hop. It was a bittersweet organic blend, quickly becoming Run-DMC’s signature sound. The outfit’s popularity continued to grow at an unfathomable speed, with their Aerosmith collaboration remaining legendary to this day.
Rick Rubin’s unique production opened the floodgates for artists and crews to experiment with hip-hop. Following his arrival, other pioneers began breaking free of the creative restrictions placed upon artists by hip-hop purists, and the culture regained its dynamism. Although hip-hop had always been loosely tied to fashion, and as an umbrella term, the word “streetwear” had always been the culture’s defacto fashion, Run-DMC were among the first collectives to have their signature aesthetic. The Queens trio were the first act to have a partnership deal with a major fashion brand and were always dressed head-to-toe with Adidas.
Rev Run was the crew’s frontman and, alongside DMC, was the three-piece ensemble’s main vocalist. As such, the rapper is in high demand for interviews about the origins of the crew and how it dissipated but also for his hot takes. In a 2015 appearance on the New York radio show Sway In The Morning, the golden-age rapper was asked to name his top five rappers currently to which he responded, “Drake is really good, I like Drake a lot. Obviously Nas spits fire! Obviously Rakim is amazing…umm…I love Jay-Z! I think he’s a dope rapper! And I think this guys a producer but Kanye is dope on the mic to me. Can I do one more? When she’s going ill I think Nicki Minaj is gets busy!”
You can watch the full interview in the video below.
Rev Run favourite rapper:
- Kanye West