From their humble beginnings in Queens, New York, Run-DMC have been certified down by law, breaking all the rules and bringing hip hop into the mainstream and beyond. Famed for their heavy beats, their unique fashion sensibility and above all else, their affinity with adidas, Run-DMC will go down in history as the most influential.
When the trio first came together in the early-80s, DJs and rappers like Grandmaster Flash, the Cold Crush Brothers and Melle Mel ruled the roost, slaying the stage with flamboyant braided hair, zoot suits and a royal-African mix of furs and skins. Enter Run, Jam-Master Jay and DMC. Their signature street style, a staunch mix of denim, adidas tracksuit tops, Kangols, fedoras, heavy framed glasses and of course adidas Superstars (worn in true prison-style without laces) was a powerfully simple statement that recast the template.
Under the guidance of their crafty manager Russell Simmons (Run’s brother), they dropped their self-titled album in 1984, becoming the first rap group to ever go gold. Backing up their rookie effort with King of Rock in 1985, the album’s stunning sample-heavy use of rock beats rose through the charts and went platinum.
All the while, the trio had proudly flossed adidas from head to toe. This wasn’t a sanctioned business endorsement, this was simply three brothers with a love for three stripes. When Run-D.M.C dropped the track My Adidas on their 1986 album Raising Hell, they weren’t just speaking of their own passion for the Trefoil, but also on behalf of all their fans. adidas represented the lifestyle.
My Adidas by Run-D.M.C 1986
Now me and my adidas do the illest things
We like to stomp out pimps with diamond rings
We slay all suckers who perpetrate
And lay down law from state to state
We travel on gravel, dirt road or street
I wear my adidas when I rock the beat
On stage, front page, every show I go
It’s adidas on my feet high top or low
The album did more than cement Run-DMC’s place in the pop charts, it certified their blue chip status on a global scale. Bridging cultural and ethnic gaps by smashing rock and hip hop together (most famously on the remix version of Aerosmith’s Walk this Way), Run-DMC brought a unique genre-busting approach to the music industry.
Soon after the release of Raising Hell, while performing the track My Adidas to a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden in NYC, they asked the crowd to hold up their sneakers. Thousands of adidas Superstar sneakers were raised in unison, a triumphant moment that is captured in the photo book ‘The World Is…’ by Lawrence Watson. An adidas employee in the crowd informed the company and the subsequent million dollar deal marked a new era of corporate affiliation with hip hop music.
‘We just made the record and we put the record out, and then the company approached us. We’d already been wearing them, and it seems there were people at adidas who were wondering, what’s going on with the Shelltoe sneaker?’
Run-DMC had united an army, and adi-fever soon spread through the entire United States and beyond. As part of their historic endorsement, a new line of cross-branded clothing with billboards and television commercials pushed hype into overdrive. Being kings of the street meant that wherever the group rolled, they’d come under flash fire and countless candid and staged shots by photographers like Glen Friedman have left the group with an infinite visual legacy.
By 1988, when Run-DMC released their album Tougher Than Leather, the trio wore sombre all-black get-ups along with their beaming adidas Rivalry high tops. The end of the decade heralded a new era of hip hop, with the likes of N.W.A gangster-rapping their way straight into the ‘90s, right alongside manufactured acts like Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. Run-DMC’s days weren’t over though, and the group recorded three slamming albums between 1990 and 2001.
On the 30th of October in 2002, Jam-Master Jay was tragically shot dead in his recording studio. After a lengthy investigation, no charges were laid, leaving the case an unsolved mystery. Following his death, the group was laid to rest, though the affiliation continued. In 2003 adidas commemorated their fallen ambassador by releasing the Ultrastar JMJ ‘Jam-Master Jay’, an all-black Shelltoe with Jam’s name proudly displayed on the side of the shoe. In 2005, whilst celebrating 35 years of the Superstar silhouette, adidas released a white edition with the iconic Run-DMC logo flanking the heels. In 2011, adidas marked 25 years with a release that features the year ‘1986’ embroidered on the heels and golden dookie-ropes representing the trio’s flamboyant taste for gold jewellery.
In 2013, Run and DMC have slide-glided back into the spotlight to record a fresh track and interactive music video under the adidas Originals banner. They might be older and wiser, but nearly 30 years after adidas first struck the history-making deal, Run-DMC are still confessing their unwavering love for the Trefoil. This time it’s to a whole new generation with new school whizz-kid DJ A-Trak on the wheels of steel. Enjoy the new adidas Originals partnership with A-Trak and Run-DMC.
Coinciding with the latest ‘Unite all Originals‘ campaign, adidas Originals deliver an exclusive and limited edition Run DMC Superstar 80s and premium apparel pack. Unleashing only 1000 pairs worldwide, you have to be quick to grab your piece of this summer’s hottest colab. Available now, you can score the sneaks and apparel via adidas Originals.