Hip-hop uber-producer Pete Rock had been obsessed with Run-D.M.C. for more than a decade when the pioneering group asked him to co-produce 1993's "Down With the King." "My nerves were shot!," Rock tells Fuse. "I couldn't believe it. One day, Jam Master Jay came to my house in the early afternoon and was knocking on my mother's door. I'm like, "Holy sh-t! Jam Master Jay is on my doorstep.' I'm trying to keep it as cool a possible but inside, I'm just exploding. He was a real down-to-earth guy that made you feel comfortable."
Rock's enthusiasm and admiration for the DJ mirrors multiple generations of hip hop fans, who, in the wake of Jay's unsolved murder, continue to mourn and honor one of the genre's most influential figures. To celebrate Jay's legacy, Rock shares with us his five favorite Run-D.M.C. tracks ("in no particular order").
1. "Rock Box"
"It's the first mixture of rock and hip-hop together where they sampled rock music or made a rock beat with hip-hoppers on it. You have to commend Run-D.M.C. for that for bringing something new to the game. No one was making hip-hop music like that."
2. "It's Like That"
"It was a nice, uptempo party song with lyrics speaking of reality; something everyone can relate to. With that, and a hot beat, you have one of the key songs of the '80s that I used to always listen to."
3. "Down With the King"
"That's when they merged with the '90s new artists: Pete Rock and CL Smooth. They reached out to me and were looking for a new wave of music. It was a big opportunity for me because I had to impress some huge moguls: Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen. That wasn't going to be an easy task because you heard their music before you got in the game. It was all due respect to what they did in the 1980s and '90s, but I had something new that I wanted to show off."
4. "Jam Master Jay"
"I like this one because of the scratches. It was something to be remembered. When we did "Down With the King," I worked closely with Jam Master Jay. He made the drum track with my sounds; I helped along with the programming. He gave me a basic, "Hey, do it like this. Boom boom boom." And then he did it and I just added on to him. But this one will never be forgotten."
5. "Sucker MCs"
"The greatest Run-D.M.C. song ever. Those drums, man! The LinnDrum drum machine is something to honor; the sound that comes out of that thing is just like, 'Wow, man.' The claps, the kick and the snare was a hit the first time I heard it as a young child. That beat is bangin'."