|interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: How did Run D.M.C first start?
DMC: Run DMC started in first grade, well that’s when we met. We put the band together in ’82, after we got out of high school. Run’s brother, Russell Simmons, who used to do college parties, would hire DJ’s & MC’s like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Hollywood to do his parties. He was a party promoter. Run was younger, but he was around all this. He would be like “Russell, Russell, Russell, I want to rap”. He would come with Kurtis Blow because he was the “Disco Son of Kurtis Blow”. He would come out, deejay for Kurtis, then say a few rhymes, then go home. Then rappers started making records and Run was like “Russell, Russell, Russell, I want to make a record”. Russell said, “No, not until you get your diploma, because if you don’t make it in the music business, you have something to fall back on. So Run graduated from high school and was like “Russell, Russell, Russell, I got my diploma!” He then let Run make a record. He then knew I had the dopest rhymes in America, so he was like “Yo D, when Russell let’s me do this record, I’m going to put you down!” We got out of 12th grade and boom! The rest was history!
WHO?MAG: What was your reaction to having the first gold record in hip-hop?
DMC: For Run DMC, we had all these firsts. First to go gold, first to go platinum, first on MTV, first on American Bandstand, first with a sneaker deal… We didn’t care about none of that because our main thing was “Can we get on? Jay got a crate of records. Can we get on? Can we rock the mic?” That was our whole motivation. It wasn’t about the money. We just wanted to go out there and bust everybody’s ass!
WHO?MAG: How was it like performing at LIVE AID?
DMC: That was another instance where we didn’t know what we were doing here. We have the DJ’s and MC’s, but by the looks of Mick Jagger and all these superstars and Madonna, this must be big. We went out there and looked out in the audience like “Wow! There are 80,000 people out there! This isn’t like the show we did in the hood last night!” We knew this was something big over here, but we didn’t know of the impact until afterwards. That’s why on the record “My Adidas” we said “stepped on stage, at Live AID, all the people gave, and the poor got paid!”
WHO?MAG: What was your favorite Run DMC tour moment?
DMC: My personal favorite tour moment was each and every time I had a chance to tour with Public Enemy, because to me, Chuck D is God on the mic. People always ask me “Who’s better? Tupac or Biggie?” I always say Chuck D. Check the lyrics, listen to the records, listen to the flows. That is rap to perfection!
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the release of the single “Sucker MC’s”.
DMC: “Sucker MC’s” was a two sided single with “It’s Like That”. When we put “Sucker MC’s” out, all the hip-hop before us was always samples of R&B or disco records like “Good Times”, “Bounce, Rock Skate”, and records like that. A lot of records were samples, but “Sucker MC’s” was just the MC’s rhyming over a beat, and we weren’t rhyming “Happy Birthday”, “Heartbeat”, and “Throw Your Hands in the Air”. We were rapping! “I’m DMC in the place to be” over a beat. Everyone in the world was like “we know about this thing called hip-hop and rapping, but what are these guys doing?”
WHO?MAG: Tell me about “Run DMC, Live at the Montreux!”
DMC: We have a new CD/DVD called “Run DMC Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival”. What’s significant about that is not just that its Run DMC at the jazz festival, because you can go to the festival and you can see Miles Davis, you can see Earth, Wind, and Fire, you can see Eric Clapton, you might see Elton John, you might see John Lee Hooker. But what’s significant is it’s a live Run DMC show, for those who never saw a Run DMC show before Jay’s untimely passing, but you have hip-hop at the Montreux Jazz Festival, which is huge! See, we are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, because Flash and them got inducted, and we are live at the Montreux Jazz festival. So like Chuck D said, “You Can’t Stop the Bumrush!” Hip-hop rules!
WHO?MAG: So what’s next for DMC?
DMC: I got a new album coming out called “Hip-Hop Ain’t Dead Muthaf*cka”. I have some movies I’m writing. I have some animated features and I am ready to take hip-hop to Broadway. So it’s on a whole other level!
Check out this video of Jam Master Jay’s last performance exclusively provided by WHO?MAG!