Sunday, June 23, 2019

"Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C.

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2808
Date:  07/26/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  4
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rap, Rap-Rock

Pop Bits:  This Hollis, Queens, New York, trio consisted of rappers Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (D.M.C.), and DJ Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay). Managed and promoted by Simmons' brother Russell, the trio got signed to Profile Records in 1983 and issued out the single "It's Like That." It was not like other rap tracks of the day. It had a harder edge with a minimal arrangement that featured forceful vocals where Run and D.M.C. would switch off lines and also rap together. It wasn't like the (now called) old school rap of the day and it became a surprise hit at R&B reaching #15 on the chart. A second single, "Hard Times," nearly cracked the R&B Top 10 at #11. The results got Profile to spring for a full album and a self-titled debut album appeared in 1984. It would be the first hip-hop album to receive a gold certification. Their next LP, King of Rock, would raise their popularity further. It contained three R&B Top 20's and that would help make it the first hip-hop album to go platinum. The trio were redefining the genre and the hip-hop culture. For their next album, Raising Hell, the group collaborated with newbie producer Ruck Rubin. The LP was nearly done, but Rubin thought they should experiment with a rap-rock hybrid tune that might bring rock music listeners on board. Rubin suggested a cover of Aerosmith's 1975 hit "Walk This Way." At first, the group thought they would just rap over a sample of the song, but Rubin wanted them to do an actual cover. In addition, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry would be brought in to do vocals and guitar. The guys were reluctant at first, but finally agreed to the collaboration. After the track was done, the group weren't even sure it would get on the album. Not only did it make the final track listing, but it was selected to be the LP's second single. It was a hit at R&B becoming their second Top 10 on that chart reaching #8. As Rubin predicted, the Aerosmith angle helped to take the single into the mainstream and it cracked the Pop Top 10 while getting to #6 at Dance. It was boosted by a popular video that featured Tyler and Perry. It broke ground by being the first rap video to be played on MTV. The hit would send the album to #1 R&B and #3 Pop. Eventually, it would become the first multi-platinum selling hip-hop album. It also got them a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  It's kind of hard to describe what it was like back in the day to first hear this. The melding of rap with rock on a classic rock tune that featured two of the song's original performers was kind of mind blowing. The guys couldn't have picked a better song for a collaboration. The guitar riff was sample-worthy to begin with and Steven Tyler's original vocals were nearly done in a rap style. The song was influential in so many ways. It broke barriers and took rap to the mainstream. Run-D.M.C. had already taken rap to a new level and this track pushed the envelope even further. Not only that, it was just a fun listen and it ignited a fire under Aerosmith's ass to get going again.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a cover of a song originally recorded by Aerosmith in 1975. It was first issued out as the second single from their album Toys in the Attic after their #36 entry "Sweet Emotion." It initially did not chart. After their next album Rocks became a hit, this song was reissued as a single. On its second run, the song made it to #10 becoming the band's second Top 10 hit. Apparently, Jam Master Jay was playing around with the song's opening lick for potential use but didn't know who it was by as the disc he was using had no label. Rick Rubin heard Jay playing the disc and knowing exactly what it was introduced the guys to the full song and Aerosmith. From there, this cover was born. The song was the beginning of Aerosmith's revival. Their career had been floundering for years and addictions were also taking a toll. Around the time of this single, the band was cleaning up and this song along with the MTV exposure helped to make their next album Permanent Vacation a major hit.   2) The first single from the Raising Hell album was "My Adidas." It became their first R&B Top 10 getting to #5. At the time, Adidas shoes were not all that popular, yet the group became known for wearing them (without laces because they weren't allowed in jails). The song highlighted the brand and it wasn't long before the company knocked on Run-D.M.C.'s door with a lucrative endorsement deal. The brand then became synonymous with the trio and with hip-hop culture.


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