This Run-D.M.C. Beatboxing & Rapping Session Is Tougher Than Leather (Video)

It was 1988, and Run-D.M.C. were already four albums into a genre-defining discography. In May of that year, the Kings of Rock (who were previously raising hell on airwaves across the world) dropped what would become the platinum-selling Tougher Than Leather, home to fan favorites like “Mary, Mary” and “Run’s House.” Though perhaps not as boisterously successful as its predecessors, the album is nonetheless praised for its inclusion of more technical styles of rapping and production.

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Though widely known for their talents on the mic, stage, and turntables, much less has been shared of Run-D.M.C., the beatboxers and extemporaneous rappers. However, Run, D.M.C., and Jam Master Jay showed off their skills at least once, including during a promotional appearance at a London studio in 1988. In the clip – shared by Tim Westwood – the three legends kick sh*t with old-school flavor. Run’s up first, spitting a few feel-good bars as his late comrade provides the beat. D.M.C. delivers a warning to “rat MCs” who better “shut your mouth,” while the beatboxing duties are switched up as Run takes over from Jay. It’s a wonderfully seamless, jubilant performance from some of Hip-Hop’s most beloved pioneers.

Also included in the video is an interview segment in which the three men offer up some insight into the group. “Run-D.M.C. is a positive group,” says the late Jam Master Jay. “If you listen to our rhymes, we’re just really positive.” That’s when the other two jump in with some unscripted rhyme spittin’ before Run begins to speak about a topic still being discussed today. “There are more positive references in Rap than any art form in the world,” he interjects.

October 30 will mark the 15th anniversary of Jam Master Jay’s murder. The crime remains unsolved, but the DJ lives forever.