Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell vs. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Rock The House. Which Is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

Run-D.M.C. re-established themselves as Rap’s undisputed kings—and made arguably their best work—with Raising Hell. Meanwhile, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Rock The House launched the careers of the duo whose members would go on to become one of Hip-Hop’s most beloved DJs and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. These two albums pack plaques, acclaim, and changed history. Only one goes forth. Click on your pick, then click vote.

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Raising Hell by Run-D.M.C.

For as much as Run-D.M.C. raised the stakes on excitement and immediate star power care of their 1984 self-titled debut, third album Raising Hell seems to mean way more. On ’85’s King Of Rock, Run, D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay seemingly slumped compared to their breakout energy, originality, and grit on their debut LP. Raising Hell firmly re-established them as a force with which to be reckoned. The triple-platinum ’86 LP recaptured the magic and paved new road for the Hollis, Queens trio. Opening with “Peter Piper,” it was abundantly clear that J.M.J.’s role within the group had risen (even if he was omitted from the cover). In a genre that had moved extensively from DJ to MC in the spotlight, Jason Mizell balanced the billing. The title track, while not a hit, signified Run-D.M.C. getting it all the way right.

As Rap’s rhyme book was advancing, Run-D.M.C. was still capable of making the mundane feel big. “My Adidas” may be the most important merging of fashion and Hip-Hop, ever. Before it cleared a path for Kanye, Jay Z, and Dre, it started as a dope song that audiences related to. “It’s Tricky” pepped up the Run-D.M.C. flow for a song about navigating life, the industry, and stardom. As the trio touted history-driven “Proud To Be Black,” they also found the way to earn Rap greater musical legitimacy. Dusting off a decade-old Aerosmith hit, the two MCs and scratch-happy DJ used the burgeoning high production music video to make figurative “Dad” understand this thing called Rap. Rick Rubin kept Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s most necessary and grabby elements, while integrating cuttin’ and rhymin’ like guitars and downbeats. By no means did King Of Rock put Run-D.M.C. “under.” However, this gritty third album earned the Queens kings a heavenly spot in Hip-Hop history, redirecting their career and extending their game-changing impact.

Album Number: 3
Released: May 27, 1986
Label: Profile Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #3 (certified gold, July 1986; certified platinum, July 1986; certified 3x platinum, April 1987)
Song Guests: Aerosmith (Steven Tyler & Joe Perry)
Song Producers: (self), Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons


Rock The House by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Jive Records would have a close ear on the streets in the mid-1980s. As they did with Too Short, the label studied small indie albums, and offered up their services. Such was the case with DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s debut Rock The House. First released in 1986 on Word Up and re-released in 1987 on Jive, the introductory album from the West Philadelphia duo combined an MC with a crisp, clear, charismatic cadence with Hip-Hop’s most technically advanced DJ. This LP balanced straightforward raps that commanded attention, with mix-and-scratch moments that informed a whole class of would-be turntablists. “A Touch Of Jazz,” “Just Rockin’,” and “The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff” found Will Smith supporting Jeffrey Townes, and a legion of DJ Heads understood why.

Rock The House would establish The Fresh Prince’s niche early on. While Jeff would transform, backspin, and create early Hip-Hop scratch choruses, Will would complement the technicality with an accessible lexicon, and clean-cut reflection of the culture. “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” crossed over with its TV tie-in and frank storytelling. To boot, the pair played to the crowd with the Ice Cream Tee-supported antithesis, “Guys Ain’t Nothing But Trouble.” Even as low-key hopefuls, the two 2-1-5 artists prepared their body of work for the mainstream—never losing cite of the battles, the oft-hostile Union Square crowds, or the love from the house parties. Rock The House did just that, before the mansions—on television and in reality.

Album Number: 1
Released: 1986 on Word Up, and in 1987 on Jive
Label: Word Up Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #3 (certified gold, December 1988)
Song Guests: Ice Cream Tee, Ready Rock C
Song Producers: Dana Goodman, Lawrence Goodman

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: See Round 1 (The 1980s) of Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums