Soundcheck | Album | August 1984
Warning: this is an American release and it may take a lot of effort to find a copy. Justification: all successful searches will be truly rewarded.
"Run DMC" contains a wealth of hard-hitting rapping by a pair of tough vocalists - that's Run and DMC - with scratching from the hands of DJ Jam Master Jay. It follows some of the peeps at hip hop we've recently been given on the large and the small screens, but this is in Technicolor 3-D. It's less moving pictures, more a way of life.
Take "It's Like That". Lyrically, it treads the same street taken by Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" a couple of summers ago. It's something of a lecture, but a valuable one nevertheless: "One thing I know is that life is short / So listen up homeboy, give this a thought / The next time someone's teaching, why don't you get taught?". A powerful electro-funk rhythm pounds throughout, with an emphasis on bullet-like drums. There's no scratching here, but this is more than compensated by other tracks, particularly "Jam Master Jay", which gives Run DMC's DJ a chance to demonstrate his art to perfection.
Elsewhere, "Rock Box" is almost self explanatory – a superbly orchestrated collision of funk and ripping guitar – while "30 Days" hints at the wordsmiths' sense of humour. For hip hoppers, there is no bad track. There's not even an average one. The only disappointing thing about Run DMC is that their work will probably only be heard by a tiny minority here in the UK. But I hope I'm way off the mark on that one.