A sense of American history permeates the air in Philadelphia. It’s where the Liberty Bell lives; the home of Betsy Ross; the place where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution. The weight of the country’s past added to the history-making Made In America festival, which took place in Philly on Labor Day weekend. But it was the festival’s elder statesmen, Run-DMC, who made history and also revived it.
The duo dusted off their shell-top Adidas on Sunday (Sept. 2), the second and last day of the festival that featured performers of various styles and musical formats. Jill Scott, The Hives, Rita Ora, Pearl Jam and Odd Future were also among the day’s performers.
It was the first time Run and DMC performed together since the death of their DJ and crew member, Jam Master Jay. It’s been twenty years since the crew blazed the streets with their groundbreaking debut single, “It’s Like That”/ Sucker MCs,” which began their march into history. As the first rap group to earn a platinum album certification and to have a video played on MTV, the moment was not lost on Run.
“I’ve become a preacher, I’ve been doing reality TV, and I’ve been busy raising my family,” he said, as he looked out over the Made In America audience. “It’s been so long, but this feels so good.”
Fans sang along and waved their hands “from side-to-side” while Run-DMC stuck to their ’80s playbook. They didn’t attempt to posture as new artists–no Dougie dancing or costume upgrades. Fedoras, sweatsuits, Lee jeans and Adidas sneakers made up the wardrobe. They repeated some of the original routines that Kangol-sporting b-boys loved in the ’80s. In their brief set (about 45 minutes), they partied through their biggest songs, which included “My Adidas,” “It’s Tricky,” King of Rock,” and show closer “Walk This Way.”
There was only one major deviation from the traditional Run-DMC set. At one point in the show, they turned over the stage to JMJ’s two sons, who are also DJs. They each performed routines to honor the memory of their father–who was shot to death in 2002–and to promote their own skills on the turntables.
“Some years back my DJ got assassinated in Queens,” Run said, before introducing the rising DJs. “At that point me and D said we were going to break up the group without Jay. We put a silence on the group.”
Luckily for the Made In America festival-goers, the silence was broken and history was made. —Erik Parker, CBS Local