Run D.M.C. – Back From Hell

back-from-hell-run-dmc-back-n-the-day-buffetjpgOn October 16th 1990, Run D.M.C. dropped their 5th studio album “Back From Hell”.  The album reached as high as #18 on the Billboard Rap charts and #81 on Billboards Top 200.  They mostly rapped over “new jack swing” beats and lacked the hardcore and stripped down beats that the previous 4 albums had.  The album was produced by Run D.M.C. and was released on Profile Records.

I remember going to the record store and asking for the album on cd.  The guy had to write down the name of the artist and album and then told me they didn’t get any in.  It was a bad sign that Run, D and JMJ were no longer relevant.  Me being a hardcore Run D.M.C fan, I had to get it!  I finally got the cd at another record store, took the wrapper off and put in the cd into my car stereo.  For the first 50 seconds of the album I was amazed.  “Sucker DJ’s” came on and I felt like I was back in 1984.

And you say..
As we go, with the rhyme flow
Just to let you know, Darryl and Joe
Featuring DJ Jam Master Jay
All the motherfuckin way
One time, just to blow your mind
And this is how we do it, just for the people

Sucker D.J.’s are really crazy clowns
Clowns – cold clockin clowns
When will they learn that they had ? by the pounds
Pounds – cold clockin pounds
Sucker D.J.’s bite our lines up all damn day
All – all damn day
Sucker D.J.’s that’s on Jam Master Jay
Uhh ahh ahh uhh ahh ahh
Jam Master.. aiyyo..
The crew is here with you, a check it out y’all
Jam Master.. ah tell me
What the fuck you gonna do?

It then leads into the first single, “The Ave.” which depicts the hard reality of what happens on the streets of Hollis Queens NY.  Over a dope J.B.’s sample of “Same Beat”, (the same beat EPMD used for “Who’s Booty?“) Run spits,

Now on The Ave. (what?) people steal and they dealin away
I got the feelin the illin will never ever pay
Cause on the street, you’re never in the fast lane
You go to jail or get a bullet in your brain
People laugh and smile at a stick-up
A young man in a rut, shakin a big cup
People pass his ass and say, “Tough luck”
To waste time for a dime is cold fucked up
A loud shot in the air – not rare
A brother fell to the ground, nobody cares
You ask why, the baby cry, a man laugh
Nobody give a damn, that’s how they livin on The Ave

The one thing that is obvious, is that the group was no longer that “squeaky clean” group with no parental stickers on the cover of their albums.  Their mystique was harder to find on this album and it was a bit of a head-scratcher.  How many times before this album did you hear DMC put so many curse words into one verse?

I flex my muscle, what I must do
Is bumrush you, FUCK YOU I’ll crush you
The Ku Klux Klan is fucked up
And every good man’ll understand
Beginnin and winnin, from the first fuckin vocal
I spoke to you, I ain’t no joke to you
I do what I want to do
If you don’t like what me and my crew is doin then FUCK YOU
What I do and what I done with Jay and Run
None could ever become, to sum it up bum..
Get off my DICK and out my KINGDOM
(Yo yo D tell em where you’re from)
Straight from Hollis, Queens
I’m still eatin collard greens and I’m doin the same things
I ain’t never goin out suckers..
Punk motherfuckers!
What’s it all about?

They made a video for their song, “Faces” but it was more to see what celebrities made cameos instead of making it about the music.

Bob Your Head” was another one of those Jamaican flavored tracks they like to play with on every album.  In this case, they do a great job with the beats and rhymes, and it actually makes you do what the title says!   That James Brown sample of “Popcorn with a Feeling” is what makes this track funky dope!

Since everybody and their grandma was doing a song about sexually transmitted disease, the crew made their version with the track “Kick the Frama Lama Lama“.

You need a umbrella if it starts to rain
You need a umbrella if it starts to rain
You need a umbrella if it starts to rain
So why didn’t you just bring a raincoat?
And I hope, that you have a boat
Cause my cussin is floodin and you need to stay afloat
Not on water, but on somebody’s daughter
You never ever wanna say that you caught a
Breeze, that’ll freeze or some kind of the disease
To make you ill and sneeze (AH-CHOO!)
I’m tryin to tell you Baby Pop
You press your luck or youse a sucker suckin on a lollipop
You knocked off the boots and only got your shit wet
Needles inject just to disinfect, you’re upset
Your stupid monkey-ass didn’t protect yourself
Kick the frama lama lama lama lama!

Pause” was released prior to the release of this album as a b-side to “Ghostbusters” and is included on this album.  The title track was dope, but is nothing compared to the remix found on the single 12 inch.  The “Back From Hell Remix” with Ice Cube and Chuck D would’ve been the highlight of the album if it was included.  JMJ cuts up the beats nicely and even changes the beat now and then to give it that old school feeling sprinkled with Run DMC’s greatest hits beats. When you listen to this track, it’s as if Run and D are passing the torch to Cube and Chuck.  This is an unbelievable track that everyone should have and needed to be on this album!  Not sure what happened there!

Their signature look of Adidas shell-toes unlaced, gold ropes and black hats were replaced by Timberland boots and gangsta gear. They even have a song here that is about urinating on a tree from drinking too much beer.  Hmmm?   In life everything runs it’s course and in this case you can clearly see that Run DMC was surely on the way out making room for rappers like Chuck D, KRS One and Ice Cube to carry the torch for Hip Hop.  Still not a bad LP for the “Kings of Rock” and of course…Rap!

-Al E.

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