Talk this wa
RUN-DMC are dusting off their Adidas and polishing their mics before coming to see who is in the house at Barrowland.
Words: Lawrie Thomas
In case yoti hadn’t noticed. Run- DMC are back in business. And it‘s all down to the timely intervention of the previously little known New York house producer Jason Nevins who came up with the idea of welding a house rhythm to Run-DMC‘s classic debut single ‘lt‘s Like 'I‘hat‘. As ideas went. this one more than made commercial sense. The track made Number One in six European countries. a fact all the more remarkable considering it was first released fifteen years ago.
Lest anyone thinks that prior to finding themselves remixed by Jason Nevins. Run-DMC had been kicking back in some retirement plan for hip hop megastars. the ever affable DMC is keen to set the record straight. ‘People say we’ve been away but I haven‘t been home one whole week in the last year. Our last studio album might have been back in “)3 but we‘ve been doing more than twenty shows a month all over the US. Europe and Japan. We live for the live performance.’
Formed in Hollis. Queens. New York in I983. Run-DMC still rank as rap‘s first genuine superstars: the first rap artists to pick up platinum and triple platinum discs: the first rap artists to have their video. Rock Box. played on MTV; the first rap artists to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone: the only rap artists to appear at Live Aid; the first rap artists to fuse rock and rap via their groundbreaking collaboration with Aerosmith on ‘Walk This Way‘. And they were the first non athletes to pick tip sponsorship from a major sportswear manufacturer: Adidas. naturally.
Between them Run. DMC and Jam Master Jay virtually set the standard for old skool hip hop with their genre-defining debut single ‘It‘s Like 'I‘hat‘. often cited as the first b-boy record. By the late 80s. it seemed as though the world was in the palm of their hands. But street fashion waits for no man and come l993's album Down With The King. a new generation of rappers had largely stolen their thunder. By this time the trio were dedicating their work to ‘God‘ and plain old Run had now become ‘Reverend Run‘
. dividing his time between busting rhymes and doing
the Lord‘s work at the Zoe Ministry on Manhattan‘s
'The day Run-DMC breaks up you better look out your window. That's Armageddon. It’s not the end of hip hop it'll be the end of the world!’ omc
Run-DMC: fifteen years on, the hip hop still don't stop
‘I’eople ask how Run can be a rapper and a preacher and I say just the way a doctor or a garbage man goes to church — it‘s his destiny.‘ explains DMC. ‘We‘ve always been into the spiritual. we‘ve always given a positive message in our rhymes — we were never into the violence and profanity.‘
With Ilollis‘ foremost threesome set to cash in on renewed popularity with their first I'K shows after an absence of seven years. DMC‘ remains typically upbeat about the future. ‘We‘re looking to have a new album out by the spring of ‘9‘). We could go into the studio tomorrow and knock out thirteen tracks in a week. but we‘ve got to be sure we‘re making the right album! But the thing is. if Run- DMC never put out another record we could keep on working for the next ()0 years.
‘What we do was being done before anyone was putting out rap records. We don‘t need no records or no videos to do what we do. We don‘t need no DAT machines or no fancy costume changes. Jam Master Jay DJ‘s live and Run and me rap over the scratches — that‘s it! The day Run-DMC‘ breaks up. you better look out your window. 'I‘hat's Armageddon. It‘s not the end of hip hop. it‘ll be the end of the worldl‘
Run-DMC play Glasgow Barrowland on Tue 28 Jul. The Reverend Run preaches every Tuesday (7.30) and Sunday (11.00) at the Zoe Ministries at 103rd Street and Riverside in Manhattan.
Glasgow: 13th Note Cafe, Wed 29. Edinburgh: Bongo Club, Tue 28. Michael Hurley is something of a Renaissance man. He earns his living mostly from his painting and his latest album is illustrated with one of his naively surreal watercolours.
E When not busy with a brush, he's
equally at ease with a pen. He always considered himself a writer who sings, and one of his stories has just been published in The Curse, a left-field magazine of new writing. But, over the last quarter of a century, it's his songs that have made his audience grow from cult celebration to status as one of the
' true originals in American music.
He grew up in a bohemian family atmosphere in a little Pennsylvanian town where there was always music, popular music, around the home. He picked up his musical skills as he moved. ’I don’t have a home as such, but there are four addresses I keep coming back to: in Virginia, Massachusetts, Brooklyn and Ohio.’
Hurley's songs come from his life on the road and are rooted in authentic rural forms: ragged blues. Appalachian ballads, New England dance tunes (he sometimes plays and sings with the fiddle), church music, acoustic guitar-based rock ’n' roll, country banjo pickin’, the great outsider tradition of hobo singers and the bleak, ironic, humanistic social conscience of the migrant
Although he has been in and out of bands, Hurley now performs solo. ‘Through the ’70's, I'd been in bands like Automatic Slim and the Fatboys, and Sheriff Mokus and the Deranged Cowboys, and we made money, and had enthusiasm, but eventually I had to go solo,’ he
‘ explains. ‘You see, I’ve never known
a band that had more than about 30 or so songs up to performance level, but I’ve got hundreds of songs to draw on, and can easily change what I sing, or polish up an old song quickly. It suits me, gives me more freedom.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Michael Hurley: rooting for the rootless
23 Jul—6 Aug I998 THE LIST 51