As far as pure hip-hop material is concerned, legendary rap group Run-D.M.C.’s self-titled debut album Run-DMC (1984) was perhaps the Hollis Queens, New York crew’s best classic work. However, in terms of a classic gem in relationship to the entire music industry, that tribute would no doubt go to the rap pioneers’ third project Raising Hell, which dropped appropriately in 1986 during what most rap pundits consider the Golden Era of Rap.
When Raising Hell hit national record store shelves and entered boom boxes on street corners, there was no denying that despite all the naysayers who claimed rap was just a fad the music was definitely here to stay and the whole music industry simply had to accept that fact. Like the majority of rap releases during the 1980s, Raising Hell didn’t contain many tracks (12), but purchasers certainly got their money’s worth from the beginning to the ending of the disc.
In 2006, rap mogul P. Diddy released a CD titled, Press Play, and fittingly back in 1986 that’s all Raising Hell listeners had to do from the initial track, “Peter Piper,” to the closer “Proud to be Black.” Even the song, “Son of Byford,” which was a measly 27 seconds long, didn’t disappoint fans with D.M.C. rhyming and Run beat boxing in the backdrop.
There was absolutely no need for the stop or fast forward buttons with Raising Hell, because each song on the tape captivated as well as thrilled a diverse-base of consumers. While Run-D.M.C.’s highly-acclaimed second album King of Rock (1985) was the first rap album to go platinum, it was Raising Hell that achieved triple-platinum status and clearly showed unconvinced record company executives the commercial viability of rap music.
What truthfully made Raising Hell classic music of the 1980s was the fact Run, D.M.C., Jam Master Jay and the album’s producers purposely targeted rock fans on this presentation. The crew had fused rap and rock before on its first two efforts with the potent production skills of Rick Rubin, but on Raising Hell the crafty team actually reached out to the best rock band in the land, Aerosmith, to successfully collaborate on the remake of “Walk This Way.” It was this heavily-rotated single and the accompanying video that showed all music lovers that rap wasn’t solely an inner-city phenomenon and they, too, could embrace it if they wished.
While many rap heavyweights today like 50 Cent (G-Unit clothing) and Jay Z (Rocawear) have branched out and effectively started their own clothing lines, Raising Hell might have unofficially launched hip-hop fashion into the genre. From the giddy up, rap artists had always been stylish and trendy, but the trio’s hot single “My Adidas” took it to a level unforeseen.
Not only did Run-D.M.C. fans rush out to buy shell-toe Adidas, they even removed the fat shoelaces and left the price tags still hanging on them just like Run, D, and Jay. “Now the Adidas I possess for one man is rare. Myself homeboy got 50 pair,” Run rhymed. And as a result, the rap band inked a $1.6 million endorsement deal with the sneaker company and established a long-term relationship that still exists today.
There may been some hip-hop recordings that were musically more purer than Raising Hell during the 1980s like Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid in Full (1986), L.L. Cool J’s Bigger And Deffer (1987), Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988). But in rewinding to that decade it’s hard to claim there was another project that directly impacted the music’s future more as well as steered the entire industry more than Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell.
Because of its huge commercial success, the album, which still stayed true to hip-hop music, unquestionably set the stage for many of today’s successful rap stars and entrepreneurs. The sixth song on the classic LP was titled “Perfection.” And that’s exactly what Raising Hell was during the 1980s.
If interested in purchasing a copy of Raising Hell, here are five Web links where it’s available: