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vol 8 - issue 02 (oct 2005) :: interviews
RUN-DMC'S REVEREND RUN
Interview by Wayne Chinsang

BACK IN THE DAY, HE INVITED US INTO HIS HOUSE OF HIP-HOP. NOW, SOME TWO DECADES LATER, HE ONCE AGAIN OPENS HIS DOOR AND INVITES US BACK IN TO GIVE HIS NEWEST ALBUM-- DISTORTION-- A LISTEN. SO WALK ON THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR WITH OUR VERY OWN WAYNE CHINSANG, BECAUSE REVEREND RUN IS GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU FEEL RIGHT AT HOME.

Reverend Run: Hello?

Wayne Chinsang: How's it going, Reverend?

RR: Good.

WC: I know you've got a bunch of these today, so we'll just get started.

RR: Let's do it.

WC: Cool. So, you're a week away from your album release--

RR: No, no, no. It's not coming out until October now.

WC: Oh, really?

RR: Yeah. October 18th.

WC: Cool. So you've still got some time.

RR: Yeah.

WC: What was the reason for the delay?

RR: Just because we're trying to tie it in to my TV show. My show hits October 14th.

WC: So you've got a busy month in October.

RR: Yeah, it's all good. I'm excited.

WC: Are you nervous at all about it?

RR: There ain't nothing to be nervous about. It's about giving my service to the world.

WC: Right on. Talk about your TV show a little bit, because this is actually the first I've heard about it. (laughs)

RR: It's on MTV and it's replacing The Osbournes. It's called Run's House. It's a show about me raising my family, juggling running my sneaker company and my records at once, and being a rapper that is now a reverend. It's pretty zany and pretty crazy, but yet it has a message in it. Every show opens up with me waking up and sending out a word of wisdom from my little two-way pager, my email machine. I'm in the tub sitting there writing words that go out to people like Kid Rock, Serena Williams, LL Cool J, Puffy, and some radio stations. So I send that word of wisdom out, and then throughout the show it intertwines. You can see the word of wisdom that I send out in the morning kind of mixing into what's happening during the day. And then when the show ends, I'm back in the tub again giving my word of wisdom for the next day, which kind of sums up the day's crazy stuff that happened.

WC: Oh, nice. That's a totally opposite side of the coin in comparison to The Osbournes.

RR: Right. It will be very inspirational.

WC: How did that come about? Did MTV approach you?

RR: Well, I already had a little thing going with ABC Family, and I got a call from Diddy-- Sean Combs-- and he's like, "I've got an idea, man. Let's do a reality show on your family. You're my hero. You know... Run-DMC. You're Reverend Run, man. I see you on TV with your collar, and I know this could be a hit show on MTV, so I'm gonna go pitch it to them." And I said, "Well, I'm already working on a show for ABC Family with my brother Russell [Simmons]." And he said, "Russell Simmons is my hero! I'll work with him. Let's do it. I'll get you more money, and I'd love to work with your brother." Next thing you know, I'm on MTV.

WC: Wow. That's really great. Congrats.

RR: Thank you.

WC: So, on Distortion, it's obviously not out yet, but what has the feedback been from those that have heard it already?

RR: I love the record. It's very Run. I call it very Runnish. It just sounds like Raising Hell, like Tougher Than Leather, like Run. I'm inspired only by what I did. I'm inspired by what me and Russell did, and by some of the Beastie Boys stuff that I produced, Rick Rubin... it feels like that stuff. That's the record. It's not trying to impress the youth or nothing, and it's not in competition with anything but me, so I'm free in that area. My guess is that it will be pretty critically acclaimed because it's such a breath of fresh air. It's so new, but yet old. You haven't heard this stuff in a minute. Have you heard any of it?

WC: Not yet. I couldn't get an advance copy.

RR: You haven't heard the single ["Mind On The Road"]?

WC: I have heard the single, yeah.

RR: Well, that's just a sign of where it's going. It's very Run sounding.

WC: Yeah, it's very similar in its sound, but it still seems very fresh.

RR: Yeah, if you go on revrun.com you can see the video.

WC: Cool. So, it doesn't sound like creating the album was hard for you to do.

RR: It was just hard coming to the conclusion that I was making a record that sounds like me. From that moment, just wrestling with what to do, I said, "You know, I'm not gonna get one of these new producers, because they don't know this stuff. I'm just gonna do it myself." So I got this new guy named Whiteboy, and we just banged out a Run album in very short time. I mean, we finished the album in, like, ten days; ten tracks in ten days. It was very easy to make. The mixing process took about a month or so, but the making of the record was just... sometimes we were making two tracks a day.

WC: Wow.

RR: I had no distraction about where I was going. Let me just scream and sound like Run.

WC: I read that you had a pretty strict schedule-- from 11AM to 4PM every day-- that you stuck by.

RR: Yeah. But it was easy though, because I was just doing me.

WC: With that being said, was it ever intimidating for you to make the album because it was all you?

RR: Nah. There's nothing to it, man. I've been so applauded by critics-- Run-DMC and all the stuff that we did-- and the new school guys feel like they are reaching to get to the status of the type of accolades that Run-DMC has received, so I'm pretty secure in my position in the rap game. And when you go and make a record that isn't trying to compete with 50 Cent or Kanye West, you're only going against yourself. If your mind is clear and you're right and you know what you're doing, you can make a record that sounds like yourself and not worry about anything. I'm pretty sure that when people hear this they are gonna be like, "Wow! I like this!" I don't know about the youth. I just know about people that know music or that know Run-DMC. And when they hear it they're gonna say, "Wow. The guy sounds like Run. Where did he find the courage to sound like Run?" That'll be the question.

WC: What would you say is the main difference between how you create now versus how you created back in the day?

RR: There is no difference. I just think about using my talents. It's like if you've got a famous guitar player on the guitar... or you just get on the turntables and start banging. It's just about doing what you do. It's natural for me. It's like a guy that builds houses, and he stops working for a bit, but then he just gets back into it. You've just got it in you. It's just me, man. It's me. It feels like me. I can do it. I know how to do it. There's nothing to it. It's a gift.

WC: Are there any talks about a tour to support the album?

RR: There are no talks at all. I'm the only person talking--

Both: (laugh)

RR: --so I'll watch the album do what it's gonna do, and when I feel the very comfortable moment to go out and blast on stage, I'll do it. There have been some opportunities to do some things, like perform on Letterman or whatever, but I'm not performing right now. I'm not saying that I was offered to perform on Letterman, but that's what the record company would think that I would do. But I'm not going to do any of that right now. When I feel the moment, I'll blast out on stage.

WC: Do you think with the world being the way it is right now-- either in terms of post-9/11 or in times of war or even in a general sense, like with the recent Hurricane Katrina-- is it harder for you to remain positive and create hip-hop in that vein?

RR: You know, I hate to say this, but I kind of shy away from staring at things too close. I didn't stare at the Iraq thing so close. I didn't stare at Katrina so much. I'm not staring at 9/11. I see it, and then I just pray about keeping my brain together and praying for my family and praying for those people. But I don't get caught up in it. My calling isn't, I don't believe, to stand on the front line of that. I'll just do what I can in this world to inspire and hopefully help people.

WC: What inspires you to keep creating what you create?

RR: I know what I'm here for. And once you figure out what you're here for you know what you're supposed to wake up and do every morning. I'm very intuned with what I'm supposed to do on Earth. So once I get intuned with that, I start feeling comfortable. It's like washing up in the morning, going to the bathroom, living your life, eating a good sandwich. When it feels good, you do it. And that's just what I do. I thank God for my mental health and that I feel good. I just try and stay there instead of reaching outside into something that isn't my expertise.

WC: Right. So how did you and Whiteboy meet?

RR: Lyor Cohen was the president of Def Jam at the time, and he said, "I have this young kid and I believe he's great." So I said, "Give him to me," and that was the end of that. I didn't want to get into chasing down hot producers. I just wanted lots of control. So once I got my hands on a new guy who respected me, a young guy that just wanted me to be me, he helped me sort out my ideas instead of pushing on me an agenda of his own.

WC: Was the chemistry there from the start?

RR: The chemistry was wonderful. Thank God for that. The decision I made to not put any side artists on it or any great new producers on it ended up being a fabulous choice.

WC: Let's switch gears here for a second, because I wanted to ask you about Run-DMC. What Run-DMC has become throughout the years, it now supercedes the genre, or even music. The group is now a part of American culture. Is it ever weird for you to think about it like that? That what you were a part of was more than just a group?

RR: Well, it's whatever God gave me to do. With the passing of Jam Master Jay and all, I know I have more to do. Thatís why Iím a reverend now. God has a plan, and I get in the plan and stay humble.

WC: With the passing of Jam Master Jay, prior to that I know that the last time you guys recorded together was in 1999. Were there ever any talks after that to do additional recording before he passed?

RR: Nah. I was kinda shying away and moving on into business with my brother and Phat Farm. We had gone on tour with Aerosmith, but I was getting tired of that, and I knew that there was just something more that God had for me to do.

WC: Is it ever hard working with your brother? Any sibling rivalry?

RR: I donít know if itís sibling rivalry, but it is hard working with him.

WC: Is it?

RR: Well, itís easy, the love is there, but itís just... you know. We do very well, like weíre hosting the VH1 Awards a couple weeks from now, but itís just... what am I trying to say here? Heís an authority, you know? He has what he thinks, and I got what I think, and we can get together and laugh a lot. He was over all day yesterday. But his job is to kind of manage me. When Iím saying something is good, heís saying, "We can do better." So my job is saying that itís great, and his job is saying that itís not great enough.

WC: Seems to be a good dynamic there.

RR: Yeah, itís wonderful.

WC: Okay, Iíve only got one last question for you, and it has nothing to do with anything we just talked about.

RR: Okay.

WC: Do dogs have lips?

RR: (pauses) Yeah, you see it right there over their teeth.

Both: (laugh)

RR: They have lips on the side.

WC: Thatís what I think, too.

RR: Yeah, they got lips. Thatís a dumb question. Itís not a dumb question. Iím just joking when I say that. But you can see the daggone little lips on the side. Theyíre just skinny, thin, and black.

WC: Yeah, thatís what I say.

RR: Yeah, theyíre skinny on the side. You can see it clear. Probably some in the front, too. Yeah, they got lips.

Both: (laugh)

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