From becoming the second rap act to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to being revered as cultural icons—with their signature bulky gold chains, fedoras. and laceless shell-toe Adidas sneakers—Run-DMC is heralded as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time.
Founded in 1981 by DMC (Darryl McDaniels), Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons, brother of music mogul Russell Simmons) and the late Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell), the Queens-bred trio is largely credited with helping the genre of hip-hop crossover into the mainstream, inevitably changing the landscape of popular music. Widely regarded as the first hardcore rap outfit, Run-DMC’s first single, 1983’s “It’s Like That”/”Sucker M.C.’s,” set the precedent early that they were destined to be pioneers of the culture—influencing a generation of acts such as N.W.A., Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill and more.
Throughout the course of their two decades’ worth of accolades, the New York natives released seven total studio albums, with their self-titled debut arriving in 1984. Their third record, 1986’s Raising Hell, solidified their reputation as household names, with their fusion of rock and rap cemented by the group’s biggest hit single to date, a cover of Aerosmith’s 1973 hit single “Walk This Way” that evolved into a groundbreaking rap/rock collaboration. As Run-DMC crafted their discography, the group became the first rap act to achieve certain milestones, including one of the first hip-hop acts to receive a Grammy Award nomination, land a Rolling Stone cover, appear on MTV and sign a major product endorsement deal (with Adidas), to name a few.
Jam Master Jay was fatally shot at his recording studio in New York in 2002, a year after Run-DMC released their seventh album, Crown Royal. In the aftermath of the still-unsolved murder, Run-DMC officially disbanded. In recent years, Rev Run and DMC have selectively reunited on stage, including at Jay Z’s Made in America festival in 2012. A big-screen biopic detailing the legacy of the revolutionary group has reportedly been in production since 2009.