Finding the GOAT Album: Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell vs. Whodini’s Escape. Which One 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.

Two of the finest pre-1987 Rap albums meet in the Second Round ring. Run-D.M.C.’s third LP, Raising Hell waged a poltergeist-like nightmare on the street for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, winning almost nine votes to one. Meanwhile, Whodini’s sophomore Escape broke away from The Fat Boys by more than double the votes. Both albums are known for hard, advanced lyrics and innovative productions. These Brooklyn-Queens Expressway rivals flash their platinum plaques and hit records upon each other, in search of the true elite—as two of the earliest albums in the “Finding The GOAT: Album” competition. (Click one then click “vote”).


Raising Hell by Run-D.M.C.

– First Round Winner (against DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Rock The House, 88% to 12%)

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


Escape by Whodini

– First Round Winner (against The Fat Boys’ The Fat Boys, 67% to 33%)

Brooklyn, Hip-Hop trio Whodini made an incredible sophomore album in October, 1984’s Escape. While the group’s self-titled debut eloquently combined Rap with Electro, the follow-up reached the true intersection of skill and pop. As Run-D.M.C. were loud with boisterous deliveries, “Friends” waxed a cautionary tale with a chilled groove, and a vocal smoothness. Jalil and Ecstasy were innovators in knowing when to let the beat breathe, to only enhance the drama to their raps. Another single, “Five Minutes Of Funk” did the same, using a countdown theme and a crescendo approach that translated to parties, car stereos, and boom-boxes. Larry Smith’s arrangements knocked in the highest, combining synths du jour with groundbreaking bass and percussion. Whodini’s sound would not only inform all of Hip-Hop in the mid-’80s, but veteran Funk/R&B groups like Cameo, the Pointer Sisters, and Zapp.

Hip-Hop was forever intended to be the booming voice of the young streets, and Whodini’s Escape obliged. “Freaks Come Out At Night” bottled the break-dance energy with a song that applied to stick-up kids, promiscuity, and Halloween tales at once. As Whodini packed two energetic, highly accessible MCs, DJ Grandmaster Dee only fuel-injected the group’s excitement. A revered turntablist, “Featuring Grandmaster Dee” said all that needed to be said, with Drew Carter’s hands. Only eight songs deep, this early Hip-Hop album never wavered, and refused to brake. Escape found one of Hip-Hop’s most influential groups in their finest stride. Whodini had the formula to reach kids, and elevate the culture, with music that fit any working DJ’s playlist, between Funk, R&B, and Rap 12″ singles. If an album’s greatness is about percentage of great songs on an album, Jalil, Ecstasy, and Grandmaster Dee’s sophomore flirts with perfection.

Album Number: 2
Released: October 17, 1984
Label: Jive/Arista Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #35 (certified gold, January 1985; certified platinum May 1987)
Song Guests: Larry Smith
Song Producers: Larry Smith

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

Related: Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums