Tuesday, September 24th, 2002

A late mention that fits into the book/reissue/hip-hop nostalgia thang: my good friend, cheerful archivist and librarian, and sometime mentor Bill Adler has reissued his Run DMC biography, Tougher Than Leather: The Rise of Run-DMC. Now this is a beautiful thing. The original came out in 1987,as Bill explains, as part of a failed corporate synergy plan–a movie, album, and book all of the same name out at the same time! Of course, hip-hop back then had no multinational juice, and mostly ran like authentic dancehall shows still do–that is, real real real late.

The album probably dropped first (and didn’t get anywhere near the props that Raising Hell did), and the movie (which didn’t get anywhere near the props that Krush Groove did, and you know what, Krush Groove never got no props) much later. The book came out in pulp paperback sometime in between–the size of those old Michael Moorcock novels–and although it looked like a cheap cash-in, it remains one of the unsung classics of early hip-hop books.

It opens with the aftermath of the infamous Long Beach riots–the first sign to middle America that not only was rap big, it might be dangerous–and goes back and forth into the whole story of the group and the transitional scene out of the old school. If you’re new to this, then, it fills in where Yes Yes Y’all leaves off, right at the point where rap blows up. I like it better than Run’s and D’s autobiographies, mainly because Bill gives incredible you-were-there descriptions of the Disco Fever, Hollis parties, and, of course, the riots and their aftermath. It’s been out of print since the early 90s. I know I spent many desperate years trying to find a copy of this book, and when I finally did, it was more than worth the wait.

PS…If you didn’t know, and you may not just ’cause my man is too humble to tell you, Bill was Russell Simmons’ first publicist (besides Rush himself), worked with Def Jam (including Public Enemy, the Beasties, Slick Rick, LL) through the late 80s, has repped a number of great minds (the Last Poets, Franti, Paris, Paul Mooney) and has been one of the most important voices in shaping media perceptions of hip-hop culture. He’s a legend, man. Just wait ’til you read some of the interview stuff he gave me for my book. He’s also one of the key persons behind the Free Slick Rick campaign (see below).

By the way, can someone tell me how the amphitheater weekend went down–Wildstyle reunion on Friday and Kool Herc/Coxsone Dodd/Jammys on Saturday? Hit me at: cantstopwontstop@mindspring.com.

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