Run D.M.C. ~ Raising Hell
Run-DMC's 1986 rap masterpiece, Raising Hell
, storms out of the musical gate. One of the albums that defined the transition from the old school to the new school, with its heavy rhyme sequences layered on top of drum-machine beats, and an assortment of pulse-quickening record stabs thrown in for good measure, it's relentless. The late-'80s lyricism of MCs Run and DMC is not as complex as that of today's microphone mathematicians, but that was never the point--what they lack in finesse, they more than make up in intensity, authority, and flat-out lung power. The fact that almost every line of "Peter Piper" has become the hook of another hip-hop song is a testament to the power of these originals (the "not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good" line alone has been used in countless turntablist routines).
The roots of rap/metal fusion are in here, too, with songs like "It's Tricky," "Walk this Way," and the title cut making use of distorted rock guitars and pounding drums, while "Proud to Be Black" helped launch the Afrocentric-conscious rap era of the late '80s. And "My Adidas" prefigured the brand-name fetishism that hip-hop is just beginning to get over. When it comes to beats, bumps, and b-boy bravado, there has never been anyone else like Run-DMC, and this album shows why. --Joe Schloss