1986, Music

Raising Hell (1986) by Run-D.M.C.

Full disclosure, as usual: I know little about hip hop.

But, that being said, the more I learn about hip hop the more I get at least some idea of what matters and what doesn’t. And I feel like I might be able to say that this has to be one of the most consequential hip hop albums of the 1980s and perhaps the most consequential hip hop album of the mid 1980s.

I don’t know that it’s better than their debut. But it is their most successful album to date, it has “It’s Tricky” on it – which might be their most famous song at this point – and it has “walk This Way.” I didn’t know this but there’s a case to be made that “Walk This Way” saved Aerosmith’s career, which is fascinating, if it’s even partially true.

I’m not sure they’re doing anything new here, but they’re doing it bigger and more people heard it. It’s one of those records where you can try to imagine what it must have been like as a teenager to hear this for the first time – and many American teens did – and al you can conclude is that they would be blown away. (I don’t know how many non hip hop fans new what hip hop was April 1986.)

There’s always a push pull terms of influence between those who were first and those who were first to be big. This album was the biggest hip hop album at the time, whether in terms of total sales (first to go platinum and multiple platinum) and charts (first to top the R&B chart, highest charting hip hop record on the main chart). And then you have that crossover appeal of the Aerosmith cameo. which suddenly makes this okay with a generation of rock fans.

This thing has dated a lot, like all Run DMC records, in the rapping style, in the lyrics themselves, and in the production. But it’s really hard to imagine it not being one of the most important albums of the 1980s.


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