Foreign Gists

Watch rare footage of a 1988 Run-DMC beatbox cypher


Run-DMC were one of hip-hop’s most beloved crews. Rising to prominence in the 1980s alongside groups such as Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC were loved for their ability to fuse hip hop with other genres and were ultimately responsible for crossing the genre into the mainstream. Known as hip hop’s first mainstream group, Run-DMC were definitely ahead of the curve with their music.

Compromised of Jam Master Jay, Rev. Run and DMC, Run-DMC were formed in 1983 in the Hollis neighbourhood of Queens, New York. One of the crew members was brothers with a young Russell Simmons, who at the time was a hip-hop promoter. He helped the young trio land a record deal to record their debut single.

With the crew’s rise to fame commencing during the mid-1980s boom-bap era, Run-DMC’s mainstream commercial success was almost instant when they released their debut single ‘It’s Like That/Sucker MCs’ and from there, continued to grow with their Aerosmith collaboration remaining legendary unto this day.

The crew’s first and second albums would lay the foundation for artists and crews alike to start experimenting with hip-hop more and breaking free of the creative restrictions placed upon artists by the genre’s purists.

RUN DMC, the group’s debut album, was executively produced by Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, a hip-hop powerhouse. Songs such as ‘Rock Box’ had significant cultural impacts with regard to the stigma around hip-hop and helped race relations. Furthermore, the song is considered to be the first-ever rock-rap song. 

In an interview with Ameoba, N.W.A rapper, Ice cube, once stated that the new generation of hip-hop artists “wouldn’t know shit” if it wasn’t for Run-DMC, and many other artists would agree with this statement. When it comes to the 1980s, Run-DMC were on top. In 1988, during their trip to London, the trio performed a beatbox freestyle for the BBC. Luckily there was a cameraman there to record this extraordinary footage. You can watch this rare tape of Run-DMC performing a freestyle in the video below.