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Rock Hall Anniversary: Run D.M.C.’s Debut Album

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In the golden age of hip-hop, the genre was about to inch closer into the mainstream, thanks to one of its biggest stars of the time.

It was March 1984 that Run-D.M.C. released their self-titled debut album, which was considered to be one if not the first to be full-length. Produced by Larry Smith and Russell Simmons (brother of Joseph Simmons aka Run), the album would peak in the R&B top 20, while reaching number 53 in pop. But despite the chart positions, the album went gold, and would be groundbreaking for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons was the incorporation of rock elements, which helped give the group a harder and more aggressive sound, and even create a new hip-hop movement called new school. It would be a movement that would spawn future hip-hop artists including L.L. Cool J, EPMD, and Boogie Down Productions. Another reason of course was the music. The centerpiece of the album “Sucker MCs” and “It’s Like That” were already hits prior to its release, and the other single “Rock Box” contained a video that would be hip-hop’s first to be aired on MTV. Other key tracks include the opener “Hard Times” and “Hollis Crew”.

Run-D.M.C.’s debut was universally praised by critics upon release, and is deemed as one of the greatest albums, not only in hip-hop or the 1980s, but of all time. It ranked 242 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Some of the album’s tracks would also spawn countless samples from other artists including Mariah Carey, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, and Nas. With their debut, the stage would be set for the historical breakthrough come two years later.

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