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Crown Royal

Time to break out the white sneakers, RUN DMC is back with Crown Royal. If you don’t know who RUN DMC is, the lead track on Crown Royal will fill you in. "It’s Over" featuring supplemental non-rhymes courtesy of Jermaine Dupri, boasts the biographical lyrics "The first rap group to get on MTV/ and then they gonna turn around and resurrect Aerosmith… If it wasn’t for these cats you wouldn’t know nuthin’ ‘bout no L.L. Cool J or Beastie Boys, y’know what I mean?" So, there you have it. These guys were innovators of the hip-hop genre. Backed with a chorus of some operatic sample, "It’s Over" serves as an introduction/reintroduction to RUN DMC. This intro is grandiose in its presentation, but these guys are the real deal. Crown Royal recalls the days of rap and hip-hop when all you needed was one or two good samples to loop and let the rhymes answer for everything else. RUN DMC still sound like they always did. The changes in the genre haven’t pushed these guys one way or another. So, judging them against Wu-Tang or Big Pun won’t work, because like my editor said "They ain’t changin’ for no one."

In addition to being a comeback album, Crown Royal also doubles as an all-star album by a good number of people whose albums I’d never purchase. Jermiane Dupri, Nas and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Everlast, Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind (where the hell did that come from?), Sugar Ray, Chris Davies, Jagged Edge, Fat Joe and Method Man. Ok, so not all of these artists are corporate rock/rap blowhards, but I would’ve been much more excited about a straight RUN DMC album. Surprisingly, the only track that RUN DMC does alone is the title track, which sounds surprisingly empty compared to the rest of the album, upon first listen. Repeated listens reveal a well-crafted rap based on a John Berry-esque loop.

As much as it kills me to admit to this, the catchiest song on Crown Royal, and probably the most fun, is "Them Girls" featuring everyone’s favorite white guy, Fred Durst, sharing the mic. Based on a ‘60s surf-sounding riff, this song is all rhythm. Buried between hard edge rock rap, "Them Girls" provides a break of levity to what’s postured as a pretty serious album.

"Take The Money And Run" steals from the Steve Miller Band classic with a rap on top. The vocals by Everlast will make you wish they’d let Steve Miller come in and the job correctly. If you didn’t like the Steve Miller version, RUN DMC aren’t going to change your mind.

Stephan Jenkins from one hit wonders Third Eye Blind on a RUN DMC album is confusing in and of itself, but things only get more confusing when you hear his track with RUN DMC, "Rock Show". Easily a b-side or throwaway track, this song is actually the first single to be released off of Crown Royal. It’s actually a worthwhile listen until we reach the chorus, which conjures up images of N’sync. Presumably, this was left on the album so that RUN DMC can get played on the corporate alt stations, but the pairing is absurd. One may wonder if RUN DMC lost their balls. I mean, would Eminem duet with someone like Elton John? Oh, wait….

The album is a far cry from gangster rap or even socially conscious rap, the raps mainly revolve around the fact that RUN DMC sold 30 million records and that they are the kings of rap. Some issues are skimmed over lightly, but there are no heavy revelations to be found on here. But, RUN DMC was never about showing the gross underside of ghetto life. They’re a group that raps and make songs for you to rap along with.

While RUN DMC will prove to have more important albums than Crown Royal, it’s fair to say that this alum is a good listen. It’s also nice to see a group not change too much in 8 years between releases. Some may say that it took guts for them to put Fred Durst on his album at the height of Limp Bizkit backlash or having the shmoe from Third Eye Blind, but there’s no guts in any of the choices of artists on this album. Put some real underground artists or unknowns on there. Make some careers.

-Tyler Jacobson

Track Listing:

  1. It’s Over (featuring Jermaine Dupri)
  2. Queens Day (featuring Nas & Prodigy of Mobb Deep)
  3. Crown Royal
  4. Them Girls (featuring Fred Durst)
  5. The School of Old (featuring Kid Rock)
  6. Take The Money And Run (featuring Everlast)
  7. Rock Show (featuring Stehpan Jenking of Third Eye Blind)
  8. Here We Go (featuring Sugar Ray)
  9. AHHH (featuring Chris Davis)
  10. Let’s Stay Together (Together Forever) (featuring Jagged Edge)
  11. Ay Papi (featuring Fat Joe)
  12. Simmons Incorporated (featuring Method Man)

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