King of Rock

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King of Rock
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 21, 1985[1][2]
StudioGreene Street Recording, New York City, New York
GenreRap rock
LabelProfile, Arista
ProducerRussell Simmons, Larry Smith
Run-D.M.C. chronology
King of Rock
Raising Hell
Singles from King of Rock
  1. "King of Rock"
    Released: January 15, 1985
  2. "You Talk Too Much"
    Released: 1985
  3. "Jam-Master Jammin' (Remix)"
    Released: 1985
  4. "Can You Rock It Like This"
    Released: November 6, 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[5]
Rolling Stone[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide6/10[9]
The Village VoiceB+[10]

King of Rock is the second studio album by American hip hop group Run-D.M.C., released on January 21, 1985, by Profile Records. The album was produced by Russell Simmons and Larry Smith. King of Rock became the first rap album to be released on a CD, and was the third rap album to become a platinum album.[11] The album saw the group adopting a more rock-influenced sound, with several tracks prominently featuring heavy guitar riffs. The song "Roots, Rap, Reggae" features Yellowman, and was one of the first hybrids of rap and dancehall.

King of Rock peaked at number 52 on the Billboard 200, and number 12 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The album was first certified as Gold on June 3, 1985, before it was certified as Platinum by the RIAA on February 18, 1987.[12] The album features four Billboard chart singles: "King of Rock", "You Talk Too Much", "Jam-Master Jammin'" and "Can You Rock It Like This". "King of Rock" peaked at number 80 on the UK Singles Chart on March 16, 1985.[13]

King of Rock was ranked at number 44 on NME's list of the 50 Albums Released In 1985 That Still Sound Great Today.[14] "King of Rock" featured a popular music video, which became a fan favorite on MTV. It featured Calvert DeForest, also known as Larry "Bud" Melman of NBC's Late Night with David Letterman fame.[15] King of Rock was reissued by Arista Records in 1999 and 2003. An expanded and remastered edition was released in 2005 and contained 4 previously unreleased songs.[16]


On their sophomore album, King of Rock, Run-D.M.C. expanded their musical palette. The album's title itself was equal parts warning, statement of purpose, and legitimate boast. The album signified the group's intentions to pull hip-hop out of the periphery and onto center stage. It was a golden era in the evolution of contemporary music; a time and place in which hip-hop was called "rap", MTV defined "rock", and Run-D.M.C. were kings of both.

The music on the album was created by Larry Smith's group Orange Krush using the drum machine Oberheim DMX and Jam Master Jay's scratches mixed in a guitar riff. D.M.C. once commented on this fact: "People forget about Larry Smith, but Larry Smith owned hip-hop and rap. He produced our first two albums, and he produced Whodini. The rock-rap sound was Larry Smith's vision, not Rick Rubin's. Rick changed the story, but Larry was there first. Actually, me and Run were against the guitar."[17]

The name for the album came up with Corey Robbins, co-owner of Profile Records. He said: "I don't take any credit for the song title, but I did come up with the idea of calling the album that, based on the song title, and keeping it singular. It was so outrageous then-that rappers would call themselves kings of rock, instead of kings of rap. That would've been the obvious title, because they were the kings of rap. They certainly weren't considered rock – yet. Which is why it turned out to be such a cool title: it turned out to be true. They did become rock and roll, in a way; they did get played on rock radio. King of Rap or Kings of Rap would have done nothing for them. King Of Rock was outrageous."[18]

"Slow and Low" was recorded as a demo during the sessions for this album, Beastie Boys had the demo on a tape and decided to record a version after learning it wasn't going to be on King of Rock. Included on the Beastie Boys Album Licensed to Ill (1986). Run-D.M.C.'s version was not officially released until 2005, as an inclusion in the Deluxe edition of King of Rock.

The song "Can You Rock It Like This" was written by a 16-year-old LL Cool J.[19]

"King of Rock" featured a popular music video, which became a fan favorite on MTV. It featured Calvert DeForest, also known as Larry "Bud" Melman of NBC's Late Night with David Letterman fame.[15]

Appearance in movies[edit]

Three songs from this album were featured in the 1985 Warner Bros. film Krush Groove: "King of Rock", "Can You Rock It Like This" and "You're Blind".[20]


  • NME – no. 44 at "50 Albums Released In 1985 That Still Sound Great Today" (2015)[14]
  • Rockerilla – no. 12 at "Best Black Music Album 1985" (1985)[21]
  • Ego Trip – no. 8 at "Hip-Hop's Greatest Albums By Year 1979–85" (1999)[22]
  • XXL – "40 Years of Hip-Hop: Top 5 Albums by Year" (2014)[23]
  • Complex – no. 50 at "The Best Rap Albums of the '80s" (2017)[24]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Rock the House"Russell Simmons, Joseph Simmons, Larry Smith2:42
2."King of Rock"J. Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, L. Smith5:14
3."You Talk Too Much"Daniel Hayden, McDaniels, Jason Mizell, J. Simmons, R. Simmons, L. Smith5:59
4."Jam-Master Jammin'"Run-D.M.C.4:20
5."Roots, Rap, Reggae" (feat. Yellowman)Run-D.M.C.3:12
Side two
1."Can You Rock It Like This"Rick Rubin, James Smith, L. Smith4:30
2."You're Blind"Antonio Lucien Herrera, McDaniels, R. Simmons, L. Smith5:31
3."It's Not Funny"Run-D.M.C.5:35
4."Darryl and Joe (Krush-Groove 3)"McDaniels, J. Simmons, L. Smith6:39
2005 deluxe edition CD bonus tracks
10."Slow and Low (Demo)"J. Simmons, McDaniels4:27
11."Together Forever (Krush-Groove 4) (Live)"McDaniels, J. Simmons3:35
12."Jam-Master Jammin' (Remix, Long Version)"Run-D.M.C.6:45
13."King of Rock (Live, from Live Aid)"J. Simmons, McDaniels, L. Smith7:26

Chart positions[edit]

The album spent 56 weeks on the U.S. Billboard album charts and reached its peak position of number 52 in early March 1985.[25]


Chart (1985) Peak
US Billboard 200[26] 52
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[27] 12


Year Single Chart positions
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
Hot Dance Club Songs
1985 "King of Rock" 14 40 80
"You Talk Too Much" 19 301
"Jam-Master Jammin'" 53
1986 "Can You Rock It Like This" 19


  • 1 – Charted with "Darryl and Joe (Krush-Groove 3)"


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[31] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Slavicek, Louise Chipley (2009). Run-DMC. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438103501. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  2. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1985). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved May 29, 2019. {{cite book}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "King of Rock – Run-D.M.C." AllMusic. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (December 2, 1990). "A Rundown On The Recording History Of Run-d.m.c." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2584. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Breihan, Tom (September 22, 2005). "Run-D.M.C.: Run-DMC / King of Rock / Raising Hell / Tougher Than Leather". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D. (March 28, 1985). "Run-D.M.C.: King Of Rock". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Tate, Greg (2004). "Run-D.M.C.". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 708–09. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Run-D.M.C.". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 2, 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  11. ^ "SPIN Magazine (December, 1999): The Ego Has Landed – page 152". December 1999. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  12. ^ "American certifications – Run-D.M.C. – King of Rock". Recording Industry Association of America.
  13. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 75 (16 March 1985)". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "50 Albums Released In 1985 That Still Sound Great Today". February 13, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Why David Letterman Sidekick Larry "Bud" Melman Was a Hip-Hop Icon". May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  16. ^ "Run-D.M.C. – King Of Rock (2005 expanded deluxe edition)". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  17. ^ Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Penguin. ISBN 9781101526415. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  18. ^ "Run-D.M.C. – King Of Rock (2005 expanded deluxe edition)". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  19. ^ D, Chuck (2017). Chuck D Presents This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History. Running Press. ISBN 9780316430982. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  20. ^ "Krush Groove (1985) – Soundtracks – IMDb". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  21. ^ "BEST BLACK MUSIC ALBUM 1985". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hip-Hop's Greatest Albums By Year". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  23. ^ "40 Years of Hip-Hop: Top 5 Albums by Year". January 9, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Best Rap Albums of the '80s". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  25. ^ "Billboard 200: March 2, 1985". Billboard. 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  26. ^ "Run-DMC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  27. ^ "Run-DMC Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  28. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  29. ^ "Hot Dance Club Songs". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  30. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Run-D.M.C. discography". The Official Charts Company. May 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Run-D.M.C. – King of Rock". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]