Witness The Greatness Of Run-DMC With This Rare 1985 Concert (Video)

On this day in 1984 (March 27), Run-D.M.C. released their seminal debut eponymous album. In the canon of game-changing Hip-Hop albums, that album is one of the first, and possibly the biggest. Run, D.M.C., and Jam Master Jay synthesized the hardness they heard in the genre’s pioneers, and adapted it into the total package. The Profile Records debut slashed and burned Rap’s Disco ties, and presented a bass-driven boom-bap sound to embrace the Orwellian future that was 1984. “Sucker M.C.’s” combined polished, studio-savvy Rap bravado with linear storytelling. The drums penetrated eardrums while the rhyming duo commanded the track. Rap was not the feature, it was the main attraction, only enhanced by JMJ’s rhythm-scratches. “Hard Times” blasted Reaganomics, and showed a group courageous enough to admit that poverty was an epidemic. Keenly aware of Rap’s smash hit singles to date such as Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5’s “The Message,” the Hollis, Queens trio studied, developed, and reconstructed.

In lieu of fly-guy Dance aesthetics, Run-D.M.C. positioned themselves as street reporters. The leather jackets and felt hats presented Run, Darryl, and Jay as of the people. “It’s Like That” carried a boisterous delivery unheard by most smooth and fast-talking MC’s, as “Rock Box” showed the masses that Hip-Hop could be just as much Van Halen as it was Van McCoy. In this thinking, the group made the turntable a weapon-like instrument, through scratching. Grandwizard Theodore’s scratch innovation became a side-show, like a Hendrix or Clapton guitar solo—the perfect break-out. Moreover, the rhymes were arrogant, yet accessible beyond New York City, or Black America. Run-D.M.C. was not the group’s most successful effort. However, without it, the next 30-plus years of Hip-Hop would not be the same. These nine songs in the infancy stages of Rap’s full-length format are keystones to the rhyme-style, sound, and attitude that declared its staying power.

As great as the album is, few things can match the power of seeing Run, D and Jay bring their work to life in concert. Here is a show from 1985, filmed at New York City’s Rittz Club. It starts with Jay’s trademark turntablism, as he cuts and scratches to intro the group. From their DJ Run and the King of Rock take over.

Related: Run-D.M.C. Are The First Rap Artists To Receive A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award