“Kings From Queens: The RUN DMC Story” is a riveting and heartfelt love letter to hip-hop, creative expression, friendship, and hope.
The never-before-told behind-the-scenes story of RUN DMC begins with DMC expressing his desire for the group to just “be seen as kids from Hollis who believed in their talent and made something of ourselves.”
Cut to a voiceover of Eminem’s introduction of RUN DMC for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Eminem (aka Marshall Bruce Mathers III) goes on to explain how three kids from the streets of Hollis, Queens — Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell — went on to forever change the face of hip hop and the music industry as a whole.
Accepting the recognition, seven years after the tragic loss of their beloved DJ Jason (Jay) when he was shot and killed at his recording studio in Queens, Simmons and McDaniels exuded warmth, humility, sincerity, and tremendous gratitude — reinforcing their reputation as the most relatable and authentic superstars who remain unphased and unaltered by their legendary status.
During their acceptance speech, Simmons (Run) repeatedly uttered the phrase, “So much help, so many smart people,” to recognize everyone who helped get them along the way. And McDaniels (DMC) emotionally opined on the intersection of purpose and destiny.
It’s a reflection of what made RUN DMC something more than just rock and hip-hop legends.
They rose to another stratosphere because they were and have always been unquestionably and uncompromisingly authentic.
A new docu-series streaming on Peacock, Kings From Queens: The RUN DMC Story, aims to peel back the layers of superstardom and infamy to reveal that authenticity, illuminating how three neighborhood kids became the most influential rap group in the history of music, RUN DMC.
In this three-part documentary directed by Kirk Fraser, we follow the origin and evolution of the hip-hop legends — from the streets of Hollis to the top of the Billboard charts.
They formed a group that would go on to legitimize a genre of music that critics labeled a fad. As the first hardcore rap outfit, the trio set the sound and style for the next decade of rap. Their influence on culture shattered racial barriers, making them international stars and fashion leaders of the ‘80s.
When they became too sanitized for the future of hip-hop, left behind by gangster rap’s boldfaced expression of trauma, they found a way to reinvent themselves and remain relevant.
After a series of life-changing events and challenges, Rev Run and DMC reunite to tell their story, along with a roster of interview subjects that reads like a “who’s who” of hip-hop.
This includes Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eminem, Ad-Rock and Mike D of Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Grandmaster Caz (The Cold Crush Brothers), Cheryl “Salt” James (Salt-N-Pepa), Russell Simmons, Kurtis Blow, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Doug E. Fresh, and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine).
You could watch this documentary for the music alone, and it would be well worth the roughly three-hour commitment.
But it’s so much more than music because RUN DMC is about so much more than the music, music defined by honesty, passion, and love.
Ultimately, this is a story about staying true to yourself… and not losing yourself in the face of fame, failure, triumph, or tragedy.
As magnetic and commanding as these performers are on stage and behind the mic, they are even more captivating — genuinely likable and self-effacing, unpretentious and untainted — as the men behind the music.
These are men who are almost impossible not to be endeared to, men who attribute their success to brotherhood, friendship, love, and magic.
This riveting series takes you from the group’s humble beginnings (part one) to their meteoric rise and eventual downfall following rap’s sea change (part two) to the trio’s personal and spiritual growth followed by the devastating impact of personal struggles and profound loss (part three).
Part infectiously nostalgic time capsule and part heartbreaking and inspiring tale of resilience, it ends with an unexpected and beautifully poignant reminder of the power of art and music to unite, uplift, and heal.
Kings From Queens: The RUN DMC Story is a gift for fans of hip-hop and music lovers of all kinds. It’s a gift, of course, for fans of RUN DMC but also for fans of all the influential artists who followed in their iconic Adidas footsteps.
It’s a gift for children of the 80s and early 90s and also for younger generations who can’t get enough of that retro style that infuses so much of today’s fashion, culture, and entertainment.
Most of all, it’s a gift for anyone who needs a powerful reminder to just be yourself, no matter where the road takes you — even if it leads you to change the fucking world.