Run-DMC's 'Down With the King' Turns 30

Run-DMC's 'Down With the King' Turns 30

Published Thu, May 4, 2023 at 12:30 PM EDT

A Changing Industry

In May 1993, Run-DMC released their sixth studio album, Down With The King. In the ten years since Run-DMC changed the game with their stripped down, drum machine-heavy production (courtesy of the late Larry Smith) many changes had occurred in rap music.

In addition to sampling being the primary method of production, the west coast and other regions had developed, perfected and presented their own sounds and images, making the music a lot less regional than it had been previously. Unlike previous years, groups were no longer holding down full releases on their own. Collaborations were not only commonplace, they were mandatory.

Lastly, production was no longer handled by a single entity as it was in the past. Run-DMC returned with a new look, sound and team of producers. The group appeared to be heavily influenced by the rugged, baldheaded look of Onyx, who they were in close proximity to due to the group being signed to Jam Master Jay's JMJ Records. Producers on Down With The King include Pete Rock, EPMD, Kay-Gee of Naughty By Nature, Q-Tip, Jam Master Jay and The Bomb Squad.

"Down With The King" was an extremely important single, and the decision to release it as first was a wise one.

Down With The King

On March 2, 1993, the lead single from the album, "Down With The King" was released. The single was extremely important, and the decision to make it the first release was a wise one. Produced by Pete Rock and featuring C.L. Smooth, "Down With The King" gave the group a sonic update that placed them perfectly among many of the same contemporaries they'd influenced.

Run and DMC also updated their respective flows, with DMC proclaiming, "Sucker MC's could never swing wit D/because of all the things that I bring wit me/only G-O-D could be a king to me/and if the G-O-D is in me then a king I'll be."

The video for "Down With The King" featured Eazy-E sporting a huge blown out afro, Prince Be of PM Dawn, Treach of Naughty By Nature, Kriss Kross, Onyx, K-Solo, Kid Capri, Pepa, Phife Dawg, KRS-ONE, Paris and many other Hip-Hop personalities. The all-star video sent a message that the kings were back and supported by many of the artists they gave birth to.

The Onyx Influence

Because of their close affiliation with Jam Master Jay, Onyx worked with and appeared to be highly influential on Run-DMC's delivery and image on Down With The King. The group sported bald heads and displayed more aggressive deliveries than they had previously. The video for "Ooh Whatcha Gonna Do" features Onyx and "Get Open" is a collaboration with Onyx. The hook for "Ooh Whatcha Gonna Do" could easily fit on any song from Onyx's debut Bacdafucup. The new Onyx-influenced energy was welcomed and helped Run-DMC to transition into a rap industry that had changed greatly since their 1990 album, Back From Hell.

Songs like "Come On Everybody" featuring Q-Tip, "Can I Get It, Yo" with EPMD, "3 In The Head," "Hit Em Hard," and "Three Little Indians" were extremely dope. In fact, there is really no fast forward material on Down With The King. The album is perhaps the last great unified Run-DMC project.

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