Everybody knows that Run-DMC are legends when it comes to hip-hop. They may be the best group of all time for that matter. When they put out their self-titled album in 1984 there were easily five hits on it. One of those hits was the B side jam “It’s Like That”. It was a catchy tune, that had more of a dance feel than their other joints.
It was first released in 1983 on a cassette backed by track “Sucker M.C.’s” (which I liked much more, BTW). This release really marked the start of Run-DMC’s career. Both tracks were collected on the trio’s eponymous debut album, Run-DMC, in 1984.
“It’s Like That” explained what life was like in Hollis, Queens where the group was from (unemployment, high prices, death, etc.). Despite protesting those social and political problems, the song takes on a hopeful message encouraging listeners to abandon prejudice and to believe in themselves.
In 1997, the song was remixed by house DJ Jason Nevins. His version was originally released in 1997 on 10″ vinyl in the United States, and became a sleeper hit in 1998. It sold near five million copies worldwide, placing it amongst the biggest selling EDM singles of all time.
Run-DMC received a big career boost thanks to that then-unknown producer. Nevins, The Los Angeles native remixed the group’s classic without their knowledge. It became an unlikely worldwide hit.
Over a thumping, faster, house music-infused beat, the new version skyrocketed to Number One on thirty music charts in thirty different countries. Nevins’ remix sold very well, but unfortunately, he didn’t receive any royalties from it, much to his chagrin.
For Run-DMC it was a different story. The remix put them in high demand for tours overseas, where the song initially took off with U.K. clubgoers.
“We kept getting calls because we knew about Jason Nevins’ record coming out, although we didn’t have nothin’ to do with it,” recalled DMC in a 1998 interview with Bombhiphop. “But now, the booking agency is getting all these calls because they’re saying you’ve got a number one record in Europe, and it’s number one over there and it’s number one in Australia and the record’s big in the U.K. So when we were coming to Europe [and] we did a whole month in Germany. This record has given us some momentum to come out here and introduce a whole new generation of fans to hip-hop – not just Run-DMC, but to hip-hop.”
Run-DMC have always been mavericks when it comes to crossover appeal. Their sound had crunching guitar riffs, which was due to the Rick Rubin production, that was way ahead of its time. It was actually a major part of the Def Jam sound as the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J had similar production. They were arguably the first hip-hop group to crossover and do a hip-hop and rock n roll collaboration. You remember “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith? Of course, you do! That song changed the lives of both Aerosmith and Run-DMC forever. It gave both groups a huge boost in commercial appeal that they have never let die. Both groups made the most of that track.
It is unfortunate that Jason Nevins did not get quite the same bump, but he will be forever immortalized by his “It’s Like That” Remix.