RUN-D.M.C. Return To Conscious Lyrics On Back From Hell | Album Review

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How Classic? 4 out of 6

Producers: Jam Master Jay & other co-producers

Run-DMC were the first rap artists to release a fifth album when they dropped «Back From Hell» on October 16, 1990. The album is notable for adopting more of a street attitude than their previous albums as well as using more cursewords. Other than that they still deliver their usual mix of social commentary and party material, although with less emphasis on the latter, and rather going with more street tales. The production is handled by Jam Master Jay as usual albeit with quite a few co-producers lending their hand. One notable musical difference is that they've continued the trend of cutting down on the rock influenced material and here it's less obvious than ever with only the slightest hints here and there popping up.

Back From Hell kicks off with 'Sucker D.J.'s' which is based on the beat from 'Sucker MC's' off their debut album, but this time they incorporate a new sample in the background as well as more scratching. Next they hit 'The Ave' which is one of the best tracks on the album with its catchy beat and uptempo rhymes about the ills of livin' on the ave. Next Run-DMC take the time to ponder and ask 'What's It All About' which is another quality track with its satisfying beat, sampled chorus, and some of the groups best social commentary on the album, showing that they still have a more conscious attitude than most. 

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Next Run-DMC show us their first dance song ever, this one is titled 'Faces' and as the title implies it talks about race and it's also used as a metaphor for many girls (faces). The video is fittingly shot in Rio De Janeiro which is a place which is known as being very racially mixed and for having plenty of scantily clad women. On 'Pause' the boys drop another socially conscious track this time with a solid new jack swing beat which is cool because it alternates between several styles from hyped to smooth and ends with a jazzy keyboard solo. In the words of DMC «This beat is dope! Slammin'» It's also good to hear the boys warning against the dangers of taking drugs.

On the title track «Back From Hell» the style is decidedly more hip-hop and features a very solid drum beat and nice bass with just a small touch of electric guitars which is all topped off with some tasteful scratching. Like the previous track «Word Is Born» the lyrics deal with the ills of living a life of crime, and "Back From Hell" means back from prison. While «Groove To The Sound» has one of the best beats on the album which has a style similar to their older albums although with an updated twist. Even their vocals adopt some of their old ostylings, even revisiting some of their classics back and forth moments when they play off each other in that pull-and-tug rhythm they invented back in the day, which was also what made them so great.

How classic is Back From Hell?

CLASSIC: None, DOPE: The Ave., What's It All About, Pause, Back From Hell, GOOD: Sucker D.J.'s, Bop Your Head, Faces, Kick The Frama Frama Lama, Word Is Born, Don't Stop, Groove To The Sound, P Upon A Tree, OKAY: Naughty, Livin' In The City, Not Just Another Groove, Party
Alexander Ramalho