On May 15, 1986, legendary Queens-rap trio Run-D.M.C released its third album, Raising Hell. It was the the group’s most commercially successful album. It set several hip hop milestones and, frankly, it changed the game.
Raising Hell was the first hip hop album to go multi-platinum and to hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. “Walk This Way,” Run-D.M.C.’s collaborative single with the rock band Aerosmith–and a cover of Aerosmith’s 1977 hit of the same name–peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first hip hop song to ever break into the top five of that chart.
Released by Def Jam and produced by Russel Simmons and Rick Rubin, Raising Hell is recognized as the album that blasted Run-D.M.C. into the mainstream. The success of “Walk This Way” opened doors for hip hop. It proved that rap could find mainstream success and get played on typically pop and rock outlets. In an 2016 interview with Complex, Run-D.M.C.’s Daryl McDaniels (DMC) said that it was Rick Rubin who brought the idea of “Walk This Way” to the table. He added that he and Joseph “Run” Simmons originally hated the idea, but that the late Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell saw Rubin’s vision.
“Me and Run were crying, ‘Y’all are taking this rap-rock shit too far.’ But it was Jay who said, ‘Slow down, don’t perform these lyrics the way Steven Tyler performed them. If y’all do those lyrics the way Run-D.M.C. would do them with the signature switch-off/emphasis/overdub thing that you do.’ Me and Run did it that way and it worked.”
Other notable songs on Raising Hell include “It’s Tricky” and “You Be Illin.”
The track “My Adidas” resulted in another first for hip hop. During 1986’s Raising Hell tour, Run would ask the audience to hold up its Adidas sneakers when the group performed the song. When Run-D.M.C. played New York’s Madison Square Garden, the group invited Adidas executive Angelo Anastasio to the gig. When Anastasio saw them perform the track with thousands of people repping the three stripes, the deal was sealed, and Run-D.M.C. became the first hip hop group to land a million dollar clothing endorsement deal.
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