Beginning with Run-DMC's debut self titled album, the potential for crossover success while maintaining their credibility with their core audience was always evident. Super producer Larry Smith's genre crossing production satisfied Hip-Hoppers who wanted stripped down beats and dope rhymes with songs like "Sucker MC's" and "Hollis Crew" while simultaneously breaking into the "no rap" unspoken mantra of MTV with "Rock Box."
"Rock Box" and later "King of Rock" from their sophomore album of the same name. Cory Robbins, co founder of Profile Records which served as Run-DMC's label for most of their career told Rock The Bells that the move to film the video for "Rock Box" at New York club Danceteria with a mainly White cast was intentional.
"We intentionally casted a little White boy on the video in a White Rock club with a predominantly white crowd, so that MTV would play it, and it worked," he explained. "If we used a predominantly Black cast, it would have been to urban for MTV and they would never have aired it."
The seeds of the greatness that would be later dubbed Hip-Hop's "Golden Era" were planted in 1986. Drum machine production was morphing into sampling with songs like LL COOL J's "Rock The Bells" and Run DMC's "Peter Piper" — the lead single from their second album Raising Hell. "Peter Piper" was an odd song at the time of its released. It contained an interpolation of "Take Me To Mardis Gras," the foundational Hip-Hop breakbeat by Bob James, and lyrically if flipped several nursery rhymes in a tribute to the groups DJ the late great Jam Master Jay.
Continuing their tradition of releasing two songs on one single, "Peter Piper" was paired with "My Adidas" , an ode to their favorite footwear. The drum heavy song would become an anthem and score the group the first clothing deal with an athletic company by non athletes. This iconic single would also greatly build anticipation for Run-DMC's greatest and most successful project.
On 'Raising Hell' we channeled the energy of the Cold Crush Brothers and everything that came before us in Hip-Hop.
- DMC to MTV, 1996
Raising Hell would mark the first project that the group recorded without Larry Smith on production. Rick Rubin handled production giving the group a live feel on the drum only "Perfection" and dabbling in DC's Go-Go sound with "Is It Live?". "It's Tricky," which has recently become a viral sensation on social media continued the groups merging of rock and Hip-Hop, but it was Rubin's idea to remake Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" that put the group is constant MTV rotation and introduced them to an even wider mainstream audience.
The drum intro to "Walk This Way" was a popular Hip-Hop breakbeat and one that Run and D rhymed over previously but only Jam Master Jay thought that Rubin's idea to remake the song with Aerosmith was a good one. "Proud To Be Black," "Hit It Run," "Dumb Girl" and the radio-friendly, "You Be Illin" round out an album that remains a favorite amongst Run-DMC fans.