The Story Behind RUN-DMC’s “Rock Box” Song & Video
today at 8:10 am
I was researching my RokBlok Record Player post when I came across Run-DMC’s “Rockbox” video. Can you see where the cross-reference happened? Anyway, I love this song. It’s the perfect collision of rap and rock, and at the time, it sounded so fresh. There was nothing like it.
As I watched the video, I delved into the comments and realized there’s a lot more story behind the song and video for RUN-DMC’s “Rock Box.”
For all you sucker mc’s perpetratin’ a fraud
Your rhymes are cold wack and keep the crowd cold lost
You’re the kind of guy that girl ignored
I’m drivin’ caddy, you fixin ‘a ford
The music industry didn’t even consider hip hop a genre in the early ’80s, and the whole rap-rock phase would take years to fully catch on. Though the Beastie Boys, and several others along the way, toyed with the idea, it was RUN-DMC who pioneered this style on that fateful recording in the spring of 1984.
Influenced by the loud guitars and heavy rhythms of the metal band Riot, who was finishing up recording their album in the studio before RUN-DMC took over, producers Larry Smith and Russell Simmons decided to try their hand at a similar sounding beat for the up and coming rap crew. They enlisted the help of their friend Eddie Martinez to record guitar chops over the track they would come to call, “Rock Box.”
Upon listening, Profile Records president Cory Robbins was not feeling it, saying the song sounded “weird” with the guitars, so they recorded another version without them. Though Kool DJ Red Alert played this version on his New York radio show, it was Smith’s version, with the distorted guitars, that became the more popular version. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
Fun fact #1: The first video Profile Records produced, “Rock Box,” was the first video RUN-DMC ever made, and it was also the first rap song to get regular rotation on MTV.
Fun fact #2: While most magazines were oozing compliments about the groundbreaking tune, Pitchfork‘s Tom Breihan would soullessly state years later that “The only real misstep is “Rock Box”, a track that buries a decent banger under layers of unbearable hair-metal guitar wheedling.” Thanks, “Clueless” Joe Jackson.
Fun fact #3: On the making of the “Rock Box” video, DMC says, “We weren’t into it. It was just something we were told to do. And the director had the idea to have some little boy chasing after Run-DMC, to show that we had appeal to the younger generation. A little white boy, too.”
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