Published Tue, October 25, 2022 at 12:59 PM EDT
On October 25, 1985, the motion picture Krush Groove was released in theaters.
Krush Groove is the semi-autobiographical story of Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons (named Russell Walker in the movie) and chronicles his rise to fame from a promoter and manager to record label mogul. Krush Groove featured several established artists (many managed by Simmons) such as Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, New Edition and Sheila E., as well as upcoming artists such as The Disco 3 (later The Fat Boys), The Beastie Boys and a young LL COOL J.
Russell Simmons was portrayed by Peterburg Virginia's up-and-coming actor Blair Underwood, while Russell Simmons played a small role as a club owner named Crocket. The Fat Boys' manager Charles Stettler portrayed Terri Beiker, the grimy owner of Galaxy Records, while Rick Rubin portrayed himself.
In Krush Groove Russell & Rick operate Krush Groove Records where they release records by Jeckyll & Hyde, Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC. Once Run-DMC scores a hit record, the duo needs funds to distribute the record, leading Russell to borrow the money from loan shark Jay B. As Russell hustles to get the funds to repay Jay B, he and his brother fight for the romantic attention of Sheila E.
LL COOL J's third single "I Can't Live Without My Radio" was the one that put him where he deserved to be. A great majority of the public had no idea what LL looked like, and as hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when not every rap song had a video. In fact, the majority did not. Without question, the most talked about scene in Krush Groove was LL's short, but extremely effective performance of the first verse of his latest release.
In an audition scene, the late Jam Master Jay, D.M.C. and Dr. Jeckyll (the late Andre Harrell) & Mr. Hyde tell a young and energetic LL that auditions are over for that day. L yells for his "Box!" and proceeds with the performance, which would become Hip-Hop "water cooler talk" for weeks to come.
In an episode of The Foundation podcast, Alonzo Brown aka Mr. Hyde explained, “Russell Simmons putting LL in Krush Groove the way that he did was very much intentional. It speaks to Russell’s genius. LL didn’t have a video for any of his previous singles and his cameo in that movie was his video, and the album was right behind it. It worked much more effectively than a video would have.”
The movie's soundtrack was as celebrated as the movie itself and produced some of 1985's biggest and most influential hits. The previously mentioned "I Can't Live Without My Radio" launched LL COOL J into the stratosphere, while "Krush Groovin'", one of rap music's first "posse cuts" saw Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Sheila E. and The Fat Boys deliver quality verses over a Rick Rubin, Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC produced track (Rick and Run-DMC produced the Run-DMC segment of the song). The Davy DMX and Kurtis Blow produced "If I Ruled The World" was a huge hit for Kurtis Blow, while "All You Can Eat" by The Fat Boys and "She's On It" by The Beastie Boys played major parts in the movie and helped make the album one of rap's better soundtracks. The album's biggest hit, The Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced "Tender Love" also serves as the The Force MD's biggest. Stevie D of the Force MD's told The Foundation "My uncle Jesse was cryin’ that it didn’t have drums in it. Jimmy & Terry looked him directly in the face and said 'I guarantee it will be a hit !' That song got things wide open for them. After that came Janet Jackson , and they haven’t looked back." The Krush Groove movie remains an important brick in the foundation of Hip-Hop and its rise to success.