Not all aging has to be this disappointing disappearance of what made a man special. I’m not saying that a subscription is going to keep good men good (although it can’t help) but I am suggesting that we hold our public figures to higher standards of “good.”
As a society, it might be better if we start admiring mens’ WORK instead of the men who make the work. We can love Rosemary’s Baby without respecting Roman. We can worship Annie Hall without admiring Woody. We can listen to Run DMC without associating it with the current iterations of the men who made it.
And in the meantime, we can hold THESE men fucking accountable, right?
Among the men brought down by the #metoo movement, is yogi, guru, hip hop godfather Russell Simmons. He’s been accused of sexual assault by seven women and rape by six – some of whom were as young as 17 at the time of the event.
While denying any truth to these allegations, he stepped down from all his business roles and fled the country to Bali. Another generational disappointment – a man who represented so much to so many, failing to live up to the bar he set for himself.
Disappointing both for hip hop fans and for all those who bought into his whole Christian Yogi enlightened family man above it all lifestyle guru bullshit. What a fucking facade!
Rev Run had a reality show in the early 2000s focused on his family, his faith, his relationships, and his world in general. This was the prime time for moderately known celebrities known for one thing to become famous to a whole new generation for an entirely different thing.
Thousands of hip hop fans knew Run for decades as a rapper, a producer, a godfather of a genre! And suddenly he’s better known for texting motivational quotes to his friends and family from a bubble bath while his daughters launch a shoe line and take on modeling.
A generation who knew him from the streets now see him in his mansion.
In 2002, Jam-Master Jay was shot and killed at a recording studio in Jamaica – a still unsolved crime. Run and DMC immediately released a statement announcing the disbanding of the group. Jay’s memorial featured albums, flowers, and Adidas sneakers.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 – the second hip hop group after Grandmaster and the Furious Five. And they have cemented their place in pop culture with a Rev Run reality show in 2005 and a 2016 SNL Cameo from DMC.
This was the debut studio-recorded album, dropped in 1984. It broke ground – it was hip hop but it was aggressive, it was hard, it lacked the funky light carefree style of the time. And the music could be sparse behind the vocals – or the vocals could be sparse behind the beat. There was a natural balance between the elements.
This album did as much for style and culture as it did for hip hop. Their style was and remains oft-imitated, their introduction to the world of B-boy culture, and their lack of controversy made them a universally appealing.
I was in the car shipping business when this record dropped and man, I spent hours and hours driving and listening.
Rev Run (Joe Simmons) shares the lead vocalist spot in the band. He goes by Rev after becoming ordained as a Pentacostal minister. DMC (Darryl McDaniels) was a foster kid who eventually heard Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and found his calling as a rapper. They eventually found Jam-Master Jay (Jason Mizell) to DJ in the band.
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Russell does everything so we’re gonna give him his own entry.
He claims that seeing Eddie Cheeba in 1977 led him to a career in hip hop – he started by cofounding Def Jam records in 1983. He produced a movie in 1985. He produced HBO comedy specials and hit Eddie Murphy flicks. He co-founded a prepaid debit card company. He launched a clothing line called Phat Fashions which lead to Baby Phat and Phat Farm. He cofounded the Rush Philahthropic Arts Foundation.
The man has done everything in entertainment and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
He is known to be a vegan Christian yogi and Practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. He’s a friend of pre-president Donald Trump and a critic of president Donald Trump. He has been accused by a dozen women of sexual assault and/or rape.
He discovered and rose to fame the band that would become Run DMC.
Run DMC is Joe Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell – they formed Run DMC in 1981 Queens and are now widely recognized as the most influential groups in music. The had a SOUND – it was an “explode through your walls and yell at you” sound. The beats were heavy, almost the focal point of the songs, and the lyrics were stories of triumph. For the first time, hip hop rocked.
They had a STYLE. It remains impossible to disassociate Adidas sneakers minus the laces and big fat gold chains resting on a track suit. They merged the flashy, ostentatious style of old school hip hop with the streetwear leisure wear of new school hip hop.
Hip hop had previously been a DJ-front genre – with the DJ generally being the draw and the star of the show with the MC there to act as the hype-man for the DJ. Run DMC was an equal split draw between DJ and MC. Joe “Rev Run” Simmons, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels banded first and later recruited Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell as their official DJ.
Joe’s brother Russell was already a hip hop manager, and took on Run DMC as his project.