Run-D.M.C. is synonymous with hip-hop, and, appropriately, Ro's look at the pioneering, influential band's history plays like a history of the genre. Drawing on interviews with many of rap's biggest names, Ro (Have Gun Will Travel) charts the rise and fall of Run (Joe Simmons, younger brother of impresario and Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons), D.M.C (Darryl McDaniels) and Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell). Hailing from middle-class Hollis, Queens, Run-D.M.C were the first to blend rock and rap, a formula that took them to the top of the pop music charts in the mid-1980s and early '90s. The book's supporting cast includes L.L. Cool J (who had an intense rivalry with Run), the Beastie Boys, Def Jam co-founder and producer Rick Rubin, and Aerosmith, who embraced Run-D.M.C and their 1986 remake of the chart-topping single "Walk This Way." Success, however, was fleeting, owing to bad record deals, lawsuits, alcoholism, meandering film projects and a rape charge pinned on Run (he later found God, to the skepticism of some close friends). Tragedy reigns, however, as the story opens and closes with the unsolved murder of Jam Master Jay in his Queens studio in 2002. Agent, Robert Guinsler. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Music journalist Ro (Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records) chronicles the influential hip-hop group Run-D.M.C., from its formative years in Hollis, Queens, NY, to its massive success in the 1980s to the tragic death of DJ Jam Master Jay in 2002. Though the stories are interesting-witness, for instance, Run-D.M.C. battle-rapping a young L.L. Cool J backstage during the Raising Hell tour-it's often hard to tell if the anecdotes are made up of skillfully pieced-together facts or hyperbole that borders on fiction. While the information coming from group members and their associates feels legitimate, quoted conversations from 20 years ago are a little suspicious, if not totally whack. Ro, too, fails to follow up on Jay's murder, a tantalizing subject he introduces in Chapter 1, but perhaps that's for another book. Regardless, Raising Hell proves its cultural worth by illustrating how hip-hop as a genre evolved alongside Run-D.M.C.'s career; Ro reminds readers that without Run-D.M.C. or producer Rick Rubin, Eminem and 50 Cent might today be irrelevant. Recommended for libraries with substantial music collections.-Robert Morast, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The rise of the Kings of Rock, and how they did everything wrong. Hip-hop pioneers Run-D.M.C. were a trio of kids from Queens who came together in the late 1970s under the tutelage of party promoter Russell Simmons, whose younger brother Joe was an up-and-coming M.C. at the club events and parties where the new style of music was gestating. The fiercely sparse beats laid down by DJ Jam Master Jay (whose still-unsolved 2002 recording-studio murder bookends the narrative), and the combative rapping of Run and D.M.C., took some time to catch on with an audience used to the more melodic flow of the Sugar Hill Gang. But once it did, Run-D.M.C. quickly became the first superstars of the new genre. As told by Ro (Tales to Astonish, 2004, etc.), the combination at first seemed unbeatable: Simmons handled the business and marketing end, while long-haired metal-head (and future A-list producer) Rick Rubin helped the group craft their sound. It's a short, happy period in the book, with hits like "My Adidas," "King of Rock" and their rock-rap smash with Aerosmith, "Walk This Way" (credited with bringing hip-hop to the masses), helping the group rack up first after first: first hip-hop group on American Bandstand, first hip-hop platinum album and so on. But while Run-D.M.C. helped create the first big wave of hip-hop, greatly influencing the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, a combination of bad management and lousy decisions fueled by binge drinking ensured that their time in the sun wouldn't last long. Their decline is chronicled here in sad, lengthy detail. The author doesn't let his obvious affection for these men get in the way of telling the real story in boldly dramatic strokes. A cautionary taleon the fate of cultural revolutionaries: grim, but rewarding. Film rights optioned to Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way
Will enthrall both pop sociologists and armchair thrill seekers.
A definitive book.
The read of the year.
[Ro] pulls no punches in a work of nonfiction that reads like a novel.
As gory as a car wreck that we are unable to turn away from.
A revelatory (and titillating) page-turner for fans and the uninitiated alike.
Brilliant reporting...Hip-hop fans of all ages will delight in this gripping tale of sex, drugs, and rock n’rap.