In 1986 the trio from Queens in NYC released what would be the first multi-platinum seller in the rap genre based mostly on the strength of their cross-over smash team-up with Aerosmith (their 1975 original) “Walk This Way”. As a single it was also the first rap song to crack the Billboard Hot 100 Singles (peaking at #4) too! That seems astounding considering Blondie and Debbie Harry brought rap to mainstream consciousness five years earlier with the hit “Rapture”.
For the group “Raising Hell” was their third full-length release, but their first with producer Rick Rubin, who had a huge 1986 also producing the Beastie Boy smash “Licensed To Ill”. It was the commercial, and probably, artistic peak as across 12 tracks there’s hardly any filler, which for a rap album in the mid-80’s was a rare thing indeed. Rubin really upped the ante and played up Run DMC’s cutting edge style featuring the back-and-forth rhyme-trading of Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and Darrell “DMC” McDaniels. The trio’s not-so-secret weapon on the turntables Jam-Master Jay who could turn a party out with his taste of samples and scratching wizardry.
Rick Rubin Helps Bring the Noise
Rubin loved rap and rock in almost equal measure and he found the perfect foil in these three guys. They had already mashed up rap and rock in their first two albums in “Rock Box” and the humbly-titled “King of Rock”. Aside from the aforementioned “Walk This Way”, the title track was a tremendous example of what a Rubin and Jam-Master Jay alliance was capable of in combining the two genres.
But this album has tons of variety despite the rap-rock angle being played up. It has the kinetic “It’s Tricky”, sample-perfection in “Peter Piper”, lol-funny “You Be Illin'”, the braggadoccious “My Adidas” and even the great bass workout “Dumb Girl”.
The album was so well-regarded that no less than Chuck D of Public Enemy has said it was reason enough to sign up on the Def Jam label.
For Dan it was an album he’d commit to memory and use as a soundtrack to his youth. For Randy it was something he’d delve into years later and be amazed at how great and cohesive an album it really is. So put on your Adidas, track suit and fedora and let’s get down to talking about a true hip-hop masterpiece!