This shit has got to stop. I just don't understand it. Money? Pride? Whatever. People are paying respect.
RUN DMC was truly the first act that got me hooked on hip-hop. 1983. Seventh grade. Homeroom. My friend Jonah, a weird kid who used to sell D&D dice and handmade comic books detailing his step-father being ass-raped by Mr. T, was also heavy into hip-hop. Partly under the influence of his older brother, David. Jonah had shelltoes, LeTigre sport gear, and a name plate belt that spelled out "JONES". He also had a cassette of the first RUN DMC album - the one with no name. "Rock box", "Sucker MCs", "Hard Times", "It's like that". Those were the songs I remembered really well. As soon as I started listening to that, I was hooked. It was hard, fueling the supercharged hormones that were using my body as a punching bag from the inside, so it satisfied that side of me that would otherwise turn to devil music - Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Scorpions, W.A.S.P. And it was different. It rocked the downbeat.
I was always pretty aware of hip-hop up until then, my heavy exposure the result of being shuffled between public schools. But after hearing RUN DMC, my awareness was heightened. I started listening to the college station that played 2-hour blocks of hip-hop one night a week. I heard the "popeye" rap, the rappin' duke, all kinds of terrible shit. It was a weird time for hip-hop, between 83-85, but it was so entirely different that I couldn't turn my ear from it. Then the "pee wee herman" and Whodini segued into "hold it now, hit it" and "ain't no half-steppin'" and "south bronx" and even RUN DMC's own "peter piper'" and that was that. Never looked back, as people say when they don't have any other words for it. Jonah was weird as hell, but he was right, too.
Addendum: after writing that, i got this sort of queasy feeling. that feeling of self-consciousness, where i wrote something i genuinely felt and meant but, from a distance feels a little, well, desperate. it contains all the elements of a plea for being 'down': compassion, history (including pop cultural details of that period in history to ensure the appropriate level of old school flavor), references to run dmc. 'my god,' i thought, 'i even name-dropped tracks from the first run dmc album, in case anyone doubted my hefty connective thread to the old school.' thing is, i couldn't help it. i loved run dmc. and when other people get up and dance spasmodically every time 'come on eileen' gets played on 80s night, i feel absolutely no nostalgia. i remember the song, i remember it coming out of my television constantly. but i don't remember attaching myself to it sentimentally. but when i hear the opening guitar for 'rock box' or something like 'll cool j is hard as hell / battle anybody i don't care if you tell / i excel / they all fail...', my wrinkled brow smooths itself out. i just thought you should know how difficult is it to often be the very same person you ordinarily hold in judgement. it's tricky.