Run-DMC Release King of Rock Album – Today in Hip-Hop
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Jan. 21, 1985: The innovative and iconic hip-hop crew Run-DMC released their second studio album, King of Rock on this day in 1985. Today marks the 38th anniversary of their genre-blending collection.
With a heavy rock influence intertwined throughout the nine-song album, the group from Hollis, Queens garnered major crossover appeal on their platinum-selling effort, King of Rock. This style of rap-rock fusion would later be mimicked by other Golden Age hip-hop acts such as the Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and many more.
The trio—Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell—made history with this album in more ways than one. The set's first single, "King of Rock," features the group on another rap-rock classic similar to their trailblazing 1984 single, "Rock Box," whose visual was the first rap video to air on MTV. Other songs on the album like "Roots, Rap and Reggae" married Run and Darryl's bars with classic dancehall tempos.
Coincidentally, the King of Rock's release date is the same day as their late DJ Jam Master Jay's birthday. Sadly, JMJ was shot and killed while in a Queens, N.Y. recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002. Eighteen years later, on Aug. 17, 2020, two men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr., were indicted on charges of murder while trafficking drugs in connection to Jam Master Jay's murder. His tragic death aside, JMJ is celebrated on King of Rock with "Jam-Master Jammin'" and "Darryl and Joe (Krush-Groove 3)," where Jay cuts and scratches on the turntables for nearly three minutes.
Thanks to the stellar production work of Rick Rubin and the late super-producer Larry Smith, King of Rock is an influential album that brought Run-DMC to mainstream popularity. This classic album also helped Run-DMC get ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009.