1984 brought the formation of the Def Jam
record label and the release of its first single, "I
Need A Beat". Founded by promoter Russel Simmons and
then NYU college student Rick Rubin, Def Jam went on to become
an industry powerhouse. 1984 also gave rise to an MC battle
of epic proportions as U.T.F.O dropped "Roxanne, Roxanne",
and, in response, Marley Marl and Roxanne Shante released
"Roxanne's Revenge". That same year, Queens-based
Run-D.M.C. put out their raucous self-titled debut LP.
"I Need a Beat"
Rapper L.L. Cool J was only 16 years old when he recorded
"I Need a Beat" in Def Jam founder Rick Rubin's
college dorm room. Though it was cut for only $700 and was
the very first single released on the fledgling Def Jam label,
it went on to sell more than 100,000 copies. Like the other
indeed rap labels that had cropped up in recent years, Def
Jam focused on a new, younger breed of rappers. As the appetite
for old school waned, so did the status of Sugar Hill, its
dominant record label.
Released in 1984, Run D.M.C.'s self-titled Profile Records
debut representing the dawning of a new age in hip-hop. The
tracks on the album were hard, blunt, gritty and aggressive,
and the tracks like "Rock Box" even featured metal
guitar riffs. With Run D.M.C. shouting their lyrics - relentlessly
finishing each other's stark rhymes - it was obvious that
this was no happy-go-luck party jam. But it wasn't just Run
D.M.C.'s music that was different - so was their image. In
contrast to their costume-wearing predecessors, Run D.M.C.
were strictly street-style, preferring the dark, urban clothing
of hardcore b-boys to the flashy party gear of the earlier
Released by U.T.F.O. in 1984 Roxanne, Roxanne was a huge hit.
A dis on a fictional woman named Roxanne; it launched the
biggest MC battle in history. By the time it was over, more
than 100 response records had been made by rappers who had
adopted the Roxanne alias, among them Marley Marl's protégé
Roxanne Shante (who was only 15 at the time) and a rapper
who called herself the Real Roxanne.