I’ve never heard Run D.M.C.’s second album, 1985’s King of Rock, but their third album, Raising Hell was their breakout effort. The group blended hip hop rhythms and rhymes with rock guitars to create cross-genre appeal, years before Rage Against The Machine or Limp Bizkit. The transcending song from Raising Hell is the fantastic cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’, while ‘It’s Tricky’ acquires the guitar riff from The Knack’s ‘My Cherona’. The video of ‘Walk This Way’ had Steve Tyler symbolically smashing down a wall between the two bands, and the song resuscitated Aerosmith’s career.
Raising Hell gets off to a very strong start with the superb sequence of ‘Peter Piper’, ‘It’s Tricky’, ‘My Adidas’, and ‘Walk This Way’, before it loses momentum almost entirely. Most of the remaining tracks feel like after thoughts, performed over sparse backings, rendering the irritating vocal hooks of ‘Dumb Girl’ and ‘Perfection’ even more irritating.
Raising Hell is a landmark album, opening more doors for hip hop, but the steep drop-off in quality after the first four tracks disqualifies it as a great album.