Run DMC
Raising Hell


5.0
classic

Review

by Fugue USER (58 Reviews)
March 1st, 2009 | 41 replies | 12,447 views


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Raising Hell is a top quality listen, managing to incorporate a fun characteristic whilst maintaining a high standard of musical integrity and should not be excluded from any music collection, hip-hop or otherwise.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

“Raising Hell is rap's first masterpiece” Time Magazine 2006

When discussing the most influential hip-hop albums of all time there are a certain few that always seem to get a mention. Nas’ Illmatic, Wu Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers and Public Enemy’s It Take’s A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back seem by general consensus to be the cream of the crop, praised the world over from nearly every corner of this site and beyond. Occasionally however, the brilliance of a group gets overshadowed, lost in the midst of time to all but the few who remember them for who they were. Despite undoubtedly being one of the most influential groups in rap history; they were one of the first groups to pioneer the rock/rap fusion, Run DMC fall into the latter category, perhaps best remembered more for their hit singles It’s Tricky and It’s Like That than their groundbreaking albums. Although Run DMC and King of Rock were well received, it was their 1986 release Raising Hell that was perhaps the most important and influential album they released, solidifying the groups place in the annals of hip-hop greats and transforming rap from an underground phenomenon into a mainstream success.

Having built their style on Run DMC and then improved it on King Of Rock the band were on a high, having slowly gained both commercial success and critical acclaim. However on Raising Hell the now infamous fusion of rap and rock was perfected, taking this commercial and critical success to another level. The music here is rockier than anything the band had previously done, toning down the raw passion found on earlier releases and replacing it with a more comfortable flow. The inclusion of a rockier sound doesn’t detract from the trademarks of hip-hop however. The lyrical aggression, whilst relatively weak in comparison to today’s standards, is stronger than on previous releases, the razor sharp wit still evident and the beats and samples still as efficient as ever. Being produced by one of rock music’s greats in Rick Rubin certainly had something to do with the heavier sound. Rubin’s incessant touch is notable throughout, no more so than on It’s Tricky which samples The Knack’s My Sharona, the guitar heavy Rasing Hell and the obvious collaboration with Aerosmith on Walk This Way, which did much to get Run DMC noticed in white middle class culture and beyond.

An explosive, captivating start greets the listener, with the first four tracks each standing out for entirely different merits. The daring Peter Piper opens the album, followed immediately by one of the bands most well known tracks Its Tricky. The contrasting styles between these tracks is evident, with the former showcasing older rap credentials before the rockier sound seeps in through the subsequent tracks. The catchy My Adidas sounds like a more polished version of the bands older material before Walk This Way upstages them all with the addition of a wonderful collaborative vocal performance from Steven Tyler. The quality of the album never lets up, with each track bringing something different to the mixture. Only one track really feels out of place, the distinctly slower tempo of Perfection detracts some of the energy away in the middle of the album, but the excellence of the titular track and You Be Illin’ hide this flaw well.

The beats, whilst never particularly extraordinary, are always a solid enough platform for the boys to perform on. The stalwart base that they provide let the focus lay almost entirely on the accomplished vocals and consummate lyrics. Interestingly the most notable beats are found on the highly rock influenced, guitar-centric Raising Hell with the tight drum beats and guitar solo complementing the vocals well and excelling over more traditional hip-hop beats such as those found on My Adidas.

Lyrically this album is a masterpiece, with the vocal interplay between the two rappers complimenting the often intelligent and occasionally humorous lyrics. Lyrics such as

In New York the people talk and try to make us rhyme
They really hawk, but we just walk, because we have no time
And in the city it's a pity, 'cause we just can't hide
Tinted windows don't mean nothing, they know who's inside

from Its Tricky show not only a catchy, rhythmical flow but are also a startling awareness of the realities of success. Conversely some tracks such as Peter Piper seem to exist solely for bragging rights, with audacious rhymes being executed exemplarily. Generally speaking, tracks in this mould bring most of the humour to the table, with snappy one liners such as:

Jack B. Nimble was nimble, and he was quick,
but Jam Master cut faster, Jack’s on Jay's dick.
and
Like the little old lady who lived in a shoe.
If cuts were kids, he would be due.

dominating the song. Ultimately it is the differences in lyrical styles that add variety to the album and the inclusion of ample amounts of both serious and fun songs give the album a great balance.

This album helped mould the shape that hip-hop formed throughout the 90’s and paved the way for acts such as Public Enemy to follow, with great success. The rock elements are integrated into the music extremely well without losing any hip-hop fundamentals; reason alone to warrant a listen. What separates this album from others of the same ilk is the originality of the concept coupled with the flawless execution and at times brilliant vocals and exceptional lyrics. Raising Hell is a top quality listen, managing to incorporate a fun characteristic whilst maintaining a high standard of musical integrity and should not be excluded from any music collection, hip-hop or otherwise.

Recommended Tracks
Peter Piper
It’s Tricky
My Adidas
Walk This Way
Raising Hell

Overall 5 Classic



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KTV
February 25th 2009



760 Comments


This needed a review. Good one too.This Message Edited On 02.25.09

Douchebag
February 25th 2009



3624 Comments


IT's Tricky!!!!

and

MY ADIDAS!

and

WALK THIS WAAYYYY, TALK THIS WAYYYYY.

Fugue
February 25th 2009



7352 Comments


This needed a review. Good one too.


Yeah I was amazed to see it didn't have one, ta for the compliment.

So yeah I am not too knowledgeable about hip-hop so if any of my logic seems to be a bit flawed feel free to tell me whats wrong.

Douchebag
February 25th 2009



3624 Comments


Yeah I don't listen to hip hop at all. But I do give the best of RUN DMC a spin every now and then.

gaslightanthem
February 25th 2009



5209 Comments


Hip-hop is great and this is a fantastic album, probably the groups best. This is more like a 4 or 4.5/5 for me though.
I guess what I'm trying to say is good review. Except I wasn't.
But now I have.

Fugue
February 25th 2009



7352 Comments


Thanks for the compliments man :-). I'm definitely making it a priority of mine to get into more hip-hop as this is one of the few hip-hop albums I own. Maybe I would rate this less if I had more exposure to the genre Idk, all I know is it is an awesome album.

gaslightanthem
February 25th 2009



5209 Comments


It's definitley a genre worth getting into.


Fugue
February 25th 2009



7352 Comments


Yeah thats what I thought.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2009



20856 Comments


Haha. My threats were listened to… It’s Ross monthly review! And what a fantastic review it is… Well worth the wait!… Definitely worthy of a pos.
A great intro paragraph which places Run DMC’s position in all of rap/hip-hop. A 2nd paragraph which is just as good as it compares this particular album to what they had released previously. A nice summation in the final paragraph. And everything in-between is top-notch. I actually feel it helped that you had not written a hip-hop review before & don’t think yourself an expert in the genre as it appears as if you have (a) went over everything with a fine-tooth comb, and (b) written this from a perspective where everyone can gain something out of the review. Great stuff Ross.
I eagerly await your March review Ross! :-)


Douchebag
February 25th 2009



3624 Comments


Lol you do one each month? that's pretty cool. I should get un-lazy and do that too.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2009



20856 Comments


Nah Croc, I was just stirring him because he hadn't written a review in a month.

Douchebag
February 25th 2009



3624 Comments


Oh okay, awesome.

badtaste
February 26th 2009



824 Comments


hi5 for reviewing this. Very nicely written.

Fugue
February 26th 2009



7352 Comments


Ta for the compliments guys.

Davey: Actually I'm probably going to do another review sooner than march *shock horror*. After writing this I remembered how much I enjoy writing reviews. As for the other stuff yes maybe being inexperienced with hip-hop helped, this review definitely turned out better than I was expecting.

Alligator: Naww man, Davey's just being an ass

badtaste: Yeah, can't believe this didnt have a review.

KTV
February 26th 2009



760 Comments


'Hit It Run' is my favorite off of this.

Spamue1G
February 26th 2009



1292 Comments


It amazes me that this didn't already have a review... but great way to be the first

singleladies
February 26th 2009



20 Comments


i love run dmc but walk this way should never have happened

gaslightanthem
February 26th 2009



5209 Comments


what because it was really really good?

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2009



7326 Comments


Really good review, one of your best. This is one of those classic albums I've wanted to hear for a while, but I've never actually bothered getting it. I will do sometime though.

singleladies
February 26th 2009



20 Comments


what because it was really really good?
no because the original is awful and they don't make it any better, also because it is vh1 "that was totally innovative!" list fodder



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