Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Run-D.M.C.: Run-D.M.C. [Profile, 1984]
Though a bit upwardly mobile for the highbrow-lowbrows who regard money lust and the death throes of capitalism as two sides of rap's only fit subject--D.J. Run boasted about attending St. John's, of all things--the competitive fatalism of the spare, brutal "It's Like That"/"Sucker M.C.'s" was unforced and dead on, and Eddie Martinez's Hendrix-Funkadelic metal on the expansive "Rock Box" proves that even street minimalists can love guitars. But this does more than fill in around two of the finest singles of the past couple of years. It's easily the canniest and most formally sustained rap album ever, a tour de force I trust will be studied by all manner of creative downtowners and racially enlightened Englishmen. While their heavy staccato and proud disdain for melody may prove too avant-garde for some, the style has been in the New York air long enough that you may understand it better than you think. Do you have zero tolerance for namby-pamby bullshit? Do you believe in yourself above all? Then chances are you share Run-D.M.C.'s values. A-