Run-DMC, Raising Hell

Hip-hop wasn't big until this album, really. But this album made it really big and did so almost effortlessly. Dig the variety: silly stuff like "My Adidas" and "You Be Illin'" (setting the mold for later acts like DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince), beatboxing in "Hit It Run," hard beats in "Peter Piper" and "It's Tricky" and phat rock and bass in "Raising Hell," probably the most technically well-constructed track on the disc. "Dumb Girl" might hit a little too close to home for some and "Son Of Byford" is a dopey throwaway, but "Proud To Be Black" is a literate, aggressive and proud history lesson any listener of any colour can learn from. And let's not forget their new advance in sampling, where instead of just DJing the song Aerosmith came back to actually perform on their cover of "Walk This Way" and rebooted themselves in the process. That's big. The 2005 remaster includes an "acapella" version of "My Adidas" which isn't all that special and the two radio spots (one complete with outtakes and producer) are absolutely brainless, but "Lord Of Lyrics" has a solid rock backing strong enough to make the main album and the rough cuts and glitches of the "Walk This Way" demo have a strangely affable feel that puts you right in the studio. (Content: mild expletives; S- and F-bombs in the "Live At The Apollo" spot.)