On April 4, 2009, Run-DMC became only the second hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Run-D.M.C. was an influential hip hop group from Hollis, in the Queens borough of New York City.

Founded by Joseph “DJ Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell, the group is arguably the most important and influential act in the history of hip hop. They were the biggest act in hip-hop throughout the 1980s and are credited with breaking hip hop into mainstream music. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them number 48 in their list of the greatest musical artists of all time. In 2007, the trio was named Greatest Hip Hop Group of All Time by MTV.com. They were also named Greatest Hip Hop Artist of All Time by VH1. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009, the second hip-hop group to be inducted.

The three members of Run-D.M.C. grew up in the neighborhood of Hollis in the Queens borough of New York City, USA. As a teen, Joseph Simmons was recruited by his older brother, an up and coming hip-hop promoter named Russell Simmons, to be the onstage DJ for rapper Kurtis Blow–who was managed by Russell. Performing as “DJ Run, Son of Kurtis Blow,” the younger Simmons soon began trading rhymes with Kurtis Blow and beat-boxing for the audience. He would often come back to Hollis and play his taped performances for his friend Darryl McDaniels. Previously, McDaniels had been more focused on athletics than music, but soon began to DJ after purchasing a set of turntables.

Simmons convinced McDaniels to start rapping, and though McDaniels wouldn’t perform in public, he soon began writing rhymes and calling himself “Easy D.” Simmons and McDaniels (who, over time, had overcome his early stage fright) started hanging around Two-Fifths Park in Hollis in late 1980, hoping to rap for the local DJs that performed and competed there. The most popular local DJ at the park was a youngster named Jason “Jazzy Jase” Mizell. Mizell was known for his flashy wardrobe and b-boy attitude; but had had troubles with the law as a teen. He’d decided to pursue music full-time and began entertaining in the park soon after. Eventually, Simmons and McDaniels rapped in front of Mizell at the park and the three were immediate friends.

Following Russell’s success managing Kurtis Blow, he helped Run record his first single, a song called “Street Kid.” The song went unnoticed, but despite the single’s failure, Run’s enthusiasm for music was growing. He wanted to record again–this time with his co-hort Easy D; but Russell refused, citing a dislike for D’s rhyming style. After they completed high school and started college in 1982, Simmons and McDaniels finally convinced Russell to let them record as a duo, and they recruited Mizell (who now called himself ‘Jam-Master Jay’) to be their official DJ. A year later, in 1983, Russell agreed to help them record a new single and land a record deal; but only after he changed D’s name to ‘DMC’ and christened the group ‘Run-D.M.C.’–a name, incidentally, that the group hated. DMC said later, “We wanted to be the Dynamic Two, the Treacherous Two — when we heard that [crap], we was like, ‘We’re gonna be ruined!’”

Inducted By Eminem

It was fitting that the group that blazed the trail between rock and rap in the 1980s was invited into the rarified club by a hip-hop icon of the modern era whose career is built on their bedrock: Eminem.

His sartorial style inspired by his heroes, from the black leather jacket, shirt and pants, to the black fedora tilted on his head, Eminem bounded onto the stage with a pimping swagger and crossed his arms in a Run-DMC style as he leaned into the microphone. Eminem said “Two turntables and a microphone, that’s all it took to change the world,” the reclusive Detroit MC began. “Three kings from Queens made rap music in the b-boy stance a global phenomenon,” he said of the group’s members, rappers Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and late DJ Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. They were the first rock stars of rap. They were the first movie stars of rap. They were the first rap group played on MTV. … They were the baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool. Two turntables and a microphone.”

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