Run-DMC Are Down With The King | Album Review

run dmc dwtk.jpg

CLASSIC RATING: 4 OF 6

Producers: Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Erick Sermon, The Bomb Squad, Jermaine Dupri, and Jam Master Jay

"Down With The King" is Run-DMC's sixth album and was released on May 4, 1993, and it was Run-DMC last album until 2001's "Crown Royal". It came out in a time when west coast rap was dominating the charts and it was still a year until of the New York renaissance of hip-hop, which was spearheaded by the likes of Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and others. So you could make the case that Run-DMC's "DWTK" and Onyx's "BACDAFUCUP" (also 1993) were the forefathers of said renaissance. 

The album begins with the title track which is a hip-hop classic and Run-DMC's first number one single, beating out such earlier hits as 'Walk This Way', and 'What's It All About'. The track was produced by Pete Rock and features CL Smooth doing a fantastic rendition of the lyrics from 'Sucker M.C.'s':

Two years ago, a friend of mine
Asked me to say some MC rhymes
So I said this rhyme I'm about to say
The rhyme was mecca, and it went this way

The music video of 'Down With The King' is notable for including a large amount of cameos from such characters as Eazy-E, Redman, Kris Kross, Jermaine Dupri, Onyx, Salt-n-Pepa, KRS-One, EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest, Kid Capri, Das EFX, P.M. Dawn and Naughty by Nature. 

 The cover of Run-DMC's 'Down With the King' single

The cover of Run-DMC's 'Down With the King' single

The first three tracks feature a trifecta of legendary producers with Pete Rock producing the title track, and we have Q-Tip and Erick Sermon producing 'Come On Everybody' and 'Can I Get It, Yo' respectively. And while said tracks are definitely dope it's not until the 'Hit 'Em Hard' track produced by Kay Gee that we get another track that approaches the level of the title track. Later on the album, we get 'Ooh, Watcha Gonna Do' which was the second single and although it's produced by legendary east coast production team The Bomb Squad of Public Enemy fame, it features more of a  west coast sound than any other song on the album. It also boosts more of a gang and violence theme, which is also in contrast to Public Enemy's usual political and conscious themes, although the chorus is tongue in cheek and the verses are of the regular braggadocious variety.

 The cover from Run-DMC's "gangsta" single 'Whatcha Gonna Do'

The cover from Run-DMC's "gangsta" single 'Whatcha Gonna Do'

On 'Big Willie' Run-DMC return to their rock/rap roots to great effect and create a very interesting infusion with Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello going back and forth with Jam Master Jay taking turns with their solos which is really dope giving the track a real organic feel. The subsequent tracks don't really stand-out much, other than the Pete Rock produced 'Wreck Shop', despite notable producers such as Jermaine Dupri and even an obscure visit from the Onyx. The last quarter of the album suffers from mediocrity and pulls down the overall score of the album which definitely has some good jams but carries on longer than necessary. 

 The tracklist from Run-DMC's ''Down With the King" album (cassette version)

The tracklist from Run-DMC's ''Down With the King" album (cassette version)

How classic is Run-DMC's "Down with the King" album? Rating 1-6

CLASSIC: Down With the King DOPE: Hit 'Em Hard, Big Willie SOLID: Come On Everybody, Can I Get It, Yo - Ooh, Watcha Gonna Do, What's Next, Wreck Shop - OKAY: 3 In The Head, Three Little Indians, In The House, Can I Get A Witness, Get Open - OKAY: None Wack: None
Alexander Ramalho