Run D.M.C.: Quite Possibly the Most Influential Group in All of Hip Hop History

Run D.M.C. was a trio of males who took the hip hop world to a whole new level by introducing heavy metal and rock riffs to hip hop. The group is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential in the history of hip hop culture, and were known as one of the best hip hop acts in the 80’s. Their addition of these riffs made them quite possibly one of the most well marketed and most award winning groups of this genre at the time. They were the first group in the genre to have a gold album, be nominated for a Grammy Award, earn a platinum record, earn a multiplatinum certification, to have videos on MTV, and  to appear on American Bandstand, and to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. There is no way you could do all of these things and not be influential to music.

With the introduction and use of heavy metal in hip hop they helped to eliminate the use of funk and disco music in the genre. This transition that hip hop made moved the music away from something that was light and danceable to something that was heavy and that could not be danced to in the way people were accustomed to. This change in hip hop also called for a way hip hop was portrayed. As we saw in class the early hip hop artists like Grandmaster Flash had to wear very flashy clothing  and a band behind him to be considered hip hop where as Run D.M.C. brought hip hop to a more relaxed dress and only a DJ with two turntables behind them. This introduced the importance of the DJ-MC relationship because the Run D.M.C. (the MC’s), depended on the DJ spinning the records in order to have successful performances. Rolling Stone stated,

“Run–D.M.C. took hardcore hip-hop from an underground street sensation to a pop-culture phenomenon. Although earlier artists, such as Grandmaster Flash and The Sugarhill Gang, made rap’s initial strides on the airwaves, it was Run–D.M.C. that introduced hats, gold chains, and untied sneakers to youth culture’s most stubborn demographic group: young white male suburban rock fans. In the process, the trio helped change the course of popular music, paving the way for rap’s second generation.”

This quote to me really points out just how significant the impact Run D.M.C. had on how hip hop is viewed even today almost 40 years after their careers began. When people who don’t know rap think of rap they think of gold chains and flat brimmed hats. It’s just amazing to me that these men introduced gold chains and hats to the pop culture stigma of this genre and it still is stuck with us today. Run D.M.C. seems to have been the most influential groups that we have learned about up to this point in the course. They changed not only the genre itself and the way the music sounds and is performed, but also how the genre is seen from a societal perspective.


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