Raising Hell is the sophomore effort from Run-DMC. After virtually using three different beats to craft 9 songs (go ahead, listen to it…I’ll wait) on their self titled debut, there was a lot of room for improvement left for Raising Hell. But that was 1984 and this is 1986. Exit Larry Smith enter Rick Rubin to handle production duties. Like its predecessor, Raising Hell was also added to the “The Source 5 mic club” in 2002. How will the trio pair over the heavily rock influenced production of Mr. Rubin? We shall find out.
Peter Piper – Classic Run DMC song. Right off the bat the production sounds a billion times better than the last album. The Queens duo spit random rhymes referencing Nursery Rhymes and classic kid stories. This still sounds good.
Tricky – Ah, classic Rick Rubin hip-rock. Mr. Rubin’s production sounds 100% better then what he put out on Cool James’ debut, Radio. Raising Hell is off to a pretty good start.
My Adidas – The duo pay homage to their sneaker of choice. The beat is simple but still effective. Even though I’m a Nike guy, this song bangs!
Walk This Way – I love the way My Adidas transitions into this. If you haven’t heard this song before you seriously must live under a rock. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame, renders his vocals (and his song) for Run DMC to rap over. Lyrically, Run and D sound like preschoolers, but the song’s overall energy still make the song bearable. I never loved this song but I can listen to it without skipping it. Then again, I also sat through Matt Damon’s train wreck The Informant! in its entirety without walking out the theater, so I’m a pretty patience dude.
Is It Live – The liner notes say the drums were programmed my Sam Sever, who would later find employment doing production work on 3rd Bass’ first album, and make up one half of the group Downtown Science (a hip-hop group from the mid nineties I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of ). The drum beat has that DC go-go sound that I never cared for, while D for some reason, thought it important to let the world know that he never dated a girl with a jerry curl (yes, even in its proper context it sounds as random as I wrote it). Yes, the song sucks, but now I’m curious as to what happen to my copy of Downtown Science.
Perfection – Simple drum pattern for the beat and average lyrical output. Perfection isn’t the term that comes to mind, more like BORING! Next…
Hit And Run – Run demonstrates his below average beat-boxing skills (Buffy he is not)while D takes care of the emceeing. This wasn’t good. After a strong production start, Mr. Rubin’s beats (with the help of Sam Sever) have taken a turn for the worst.
Raising Hell – Ah, that’s more like it. Mr. Rubin hits us with one of his signature rock tinged tracks (which he actually plays live guitar on), which Run and D spit over, nicely. Now things are getting back on track.
You Be Illin’ – This song reminds me of LL’s “I’m Going Back To Cali”. Run’s reference to Dr J in the second verse definitely dates the song. This was slightly amusing, making it an okay listen.
Dumb Girl – Run and D tell tales about a gold digging, fame seeking, sex fiend, and since she possesses these qualities (I mean, traits) they proclaim her mentally inferior…or dumb. The vocal sample of “dumb” starts to grade on the ear frombthe first time it’s heard. This song was pretty dumb.
Son Of Byford – This was a complete waste of wax and time. For some reason DMC felt it was necessary to revisit a portion of his rhyme from “Hit It Run” over Run’s beat box, this time without the help of a beat. And ironically, we get the same results. Useless, but at least it doesn’t last long.
Proud To Be Black – As Run says at the beginning of the song, this was their “serious song”. They mix a little black history with random rhymes about themselves, and for good measure, throw in a little insight on things they would never do (or be). PE they are not. This was kind of a weird way to end the album.
Raising Hell was definitely a step in the right direction from the Legendary Queens crew. It starts out very strong, only to fizzle in the middle, and scrambles to regain its form in the end, but that feeble attempt fizzles like alka-Selsior tablet in a cup of water. Mr. Rubin’s beats definitely were refreshing (at least early on), and by 1986 standards well polished. Run sounds sharper this go round and D, well, still sounds like D…where’s the deejay cut at?
Did The Source Get It Right? With only a handful of good songs, Raising Hell is definitely not a classic, but will forever live off the mega hit that was “Walk This Way”, which propelled Run-DMC into the mainstream (with the help of MTV) and thrust them into superstardom.