They were the first hip-hop act propelled into the mainstream. They were the first rap group to have an album go platinum. They were the first rap group to use the rock/rap hybrid. They are also the group that helped resurrect the career of a once finished Aerosmith.
When looking at Run-D.M.C. it is hard to ignore the classics, “Walk This Way,” “Sucker M.C.’s,” “My Adidas,” “Run’s House” and “Christmas in Hollis” just to name a few. It is also hard to ignore the giant fall the group took before rebounding with their 1993 release “Down With the King.”
The group faced turmoil while recording “Crown Royal.” The album suffered numerous delays while the group was on the verge of breaking up because of D.M.C.’s desire to leave the group. He had lost his voice and was no longer in the condition to rap like he used to. Run was determined to finish this album, but the result is a confusing mess of rock and rap that seems to try too hard to recreate the magic of old, instead of creating something fresh.
The straight-rap tracks are much better than the rest of the album, starting with “Crown Royal,” the only track that features no guest. The beat is excellent, and Run tries his best to keep up with the intensity.
Jagged Edge shows up to grace the chorus of “Let’s Stay Together,” a jam that seems aimed right at the ladies, while Fat Joe adds volumes to “Ay Papi.”
The better rap tracks found here are “It’s Over,” featuring Jermaine Dupri and “Simmons Incorporated,” featuring Method Man. But the best of the bunch is the Nas and Prodigy carried “Queen’s Day.”
The rock mess begins with “Them Girls,” featuring Fred Durst. If Durst’s verses weren’t bad enough, the chorus plummets the track lower than mediocre. The first single, “Rock Show,” featuring Stephan Jenkins, rips off just about every classic rap song. The song opens, “I wanna rock right now, DJ Run and I’m claiming my crown / I be internationally known, even got chrome on the microphone.” How original. “Here We Go 2001,” featuring Sugar Ray, is just as bad. The slowed-down chorus is just too much to take, while Run-D.M.C. downgrades a classic track. “The School of Old,” featuring Kid Rock, is average at best, while the best
track found on the rock end is “Take the Money and Run,” featuring Everlast. Run sounds best over the slower instrumentals, while Everlast’s chorus sounds really good.
Throughout the whole album Jam Master Jay’s production is up-and-down, but his scratching and sample choices are executed well. Run handles the majority of the rhyming, but unfortunately he sounds uninspired most of the time and it seems that it’s time for him to put the mic down.
Run-D.M.C. have earned their crown, now it’s time to put it on the mantle and stop trying to wear it.