Rewinding the Charts: In 1986, Run-D.M.C. Raised 'Hell' & Hip-Hop's Profile

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From left: Mizell, Simmons, then-road manager Lyor Cohen and McDaniels at London's Elstree Airport in 1987.

The trio's third album became the first rap LP to crack the top 10 of the Billboard 200 & the first certified platinum by the RIAA.

Critics who dismissed rap as a passing fad were proved wrong when trailblazer Run-D.M.C.'s third album, Raising Hell, reached the summit of Billboard's Top Black Albums chart (now called Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums) on Aug. 16, 1986.

It was the first rap LP to reach No. 1 — just one of many career breakthroughs achieved by the trio of Joseph "Run" Simmons, then 21; Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, 22; and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, 21.

Run-D.M.C. formed in Queens and signed with Profile Records in 1983. The following year, the act broke a key cultural barrier when the video for "Rock Box," from its self-titled debut, made it the first rap group played on MTV. Two years later, Raising Hell presaged hip-hop's commercial viability, crossing over to the all-genre Billboard 200, where it rose to No. 3 — the first rap album to crack the top 10.

The LP's singles made history, too. A collaboration with Aerosmith on a rap-rock fusion of the latter's 1975 hit, "Walk This Way," reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first top 10 for a rap act. "My Adidas," meanwhile, prompted the sneaker giant to sign the first endorsement deal between a hip-hop group and an athletic line.

Raising Hell's critical and commercial success made it the RIAA's first platinum-certified rap album and Run-D.M.C. the first hip-hop act nominated for a Grammy Award. The group was so pioneering that it competed in the R&B vocal performance by a duo or group category. (A rap category didn't exist until 1988.)

Run-D.M.C. would release another four albums, the last in 2001. The following year, Mizell was murdered in his Queens studio in a still-unsolved case. Simmons and McDaniels retired the group shortly thereafter, though they occasionally reunite to perform.


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