I can’t say I’m a huge fan of rap, but I’m not a hater either. I pretty much take it all on a case-by-case basis, and almost all of those cases fall under the name RUN-DMC. I’ve been a fan from the first time I ever heard them.

My first exposure to RUN-DMC–or any rap, for that matter–was the Raising Hell album. I still mark this as one of the greatest albums of all time. No, not just rap albums… all albums. Don’t @ me!

The funny thing is, while I owned the Raising Hell tape (and later CD) since high school, I never heard any more of their albums. I always intended to, but I just never got around to it. Until college.

I remember purchasing A Very Special Christmas and hearing RUN-DMC’s Christmas in Hollis. I loved it. Right around that time, DMC released the Down With the King album, so I made an easy decision to buy it. And man, did I love it.

And yet again, I always intended to hear more of their stuff, I just never got around to it. Until last year. That’s when I decided to purchase the rest of their catalog–the remaining five albums. Not all their albums were as great as Raising Hell and Down with the King, but I certainly was not disappointed. And I was surprised as anyone when I realized they released one album that was every bit the contender for those two great albums.

What’s In a Name

When I loaded all my DMC albums into iTunes, I found something interesting. Their name has evolved over the years. It’s been stylized as Run-D.M.C., Run-DMC, Run DMC, and RUN-DMC. Wikipedia notes them as Run-DMC, but the group’s website uses both Run DMC and RUN-DMC (though more of the former). I’m going to stick with the latter. Either way, we know who we’re talking about, right?

Before we get to ranking the albums, let’s take a look through their catalog…

RUN-DMC Albums by Release Date

Run-D.M.C. by RUN-DMCRun-D.M.C. (1984) King of Rock by RUN-DMCKing of Rock (1985)
Raising Hell by RUN-DMCRaising Hell (1986) Tougher Than Leather by RUN-DMCTougher Than Leather (1988)
Back from Hell by RUN-DMCBack From Hell (1990) Down with the King by RUN-DMCDown With the King (1993)
Crown Royal by RUN-DMCCrown Royal (2001) Blank

Rev Run Solo Albums

Rev Run has released two albums to date. The first is a solid entry, the second a collection of RUN-DMC Remixes. I have yet to do more than sample the Rewind album, but I won’t include it in my ranking below since it’s not new studio material.

Distortion by Rev RunDistortion (2005) Red Rhythm “Rewind” by Rev RunRed Rhythm “Rewind” (2014)

DMC Solo Albums

When I researched RUN-DMC’s back catalog for this post, I was surprised to find that DMC released a solo album. I had no idea! I have since purchased the album and have had it in my rotation for about two weeks. I’m truly enjoying it. DMC’s 2017 release appears to be a vinyl-only 4-song EP that I have yet to hear.

Checks Thugs Rock n Roll by DMCChecks Thugs and Rock n Roll (2006) Back from the Dead - The Legend Lives by DMCBack from the Dead (EP) (2017)

RUN-DMC Albums Ranked

Having spent almost a year listening to all their albums I feel confident in my ranking capabilities. With no further ado, here’s my ranking of RUN-DMC albums from best to least best.

  1. Raising Hell – This is the gold standard album for all rap music. There simply is no beating it. Almost every song on this album is a classic: You Be Illin’, It’s Tricky, Raising Hell, and how can we forget the better-than-the-original cover of Walk This Way. Sorry, no better rap album exists.
  2. Crown Royal – This was the last RUN-DMC album recorded and the very last album of theirs I purchased. It did not disappoint. I purchased the deluxe version of the album and love almost every track. Honestly, DMC topped themselves here, but even still, I can’t rate this higher since Raising Hell is such an all-time classic. You can’t say they didn’t end on a high note.
  3. Distortion (Rev Run) – I absolutely love this album. For a rap album, it’s hard rocking and aggressive, which is just the way I like my music. This album packs a punch.
  4. Down With the King – I loved this album when I listened to it non-stop in college. I still love it today.
  5. Checks Thugs and Rock n Roll (DMC) – Quickly becoming a favorite album. Not all the tracks are strong, but those that are are great.
  6. Tougher Than Leather – I remember when this album came out, and I don’t know why I never listened to it. While I rated it lower, it’s still a serious contender.
  7. Back From Hell – Now we’re getting into the albums that resonated the least. Both Back From Hell and King of Rock have some solid songs and are worthy listens for any fan.
  8. King of Rock – I honestly couldn’t tell you which of these two albums is better than the other. They each had the same number of stand-out songs for me.
  9. Run-D.M.C. – I have to say this is easily the lowest rated, but it’s also their first. Many first albums have a hard time standing up as bands are still just finding themselves. That holds true here. But you can’t get to the standout albums without having a first album first, right?

There are a few “clunker” songs on the albums above, but there is very little to hate. Today, I enjoy listening to RUN-DMC every bit as much as I did when I was a kid. The death of Jam Master Jay was sad, but I think they did the right thing disbanding. They could have gone on but chose to honor his legacy. They get mad respect in my book for that. However, I wouldn’t have minded some new RUN-DMC tunes.

What about you? Any RUN-DMC fans out there disagree?