A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Today’s song is “Son of Byford” by Run DMC off their 1986 album “Raising Hell”.
I was born
Son of Byford, brother of Al
Bannah’s my mamma and Run’s my pal
It’s McDaniels, not McDonald’s
These rhymes are Darryl’s, the burgers are RONALD’S
I ran down my family tree
My mother, my father, my brother and D
I first heard any Run DMC on an “Electric Breakdance” LP that we acquired when breakdancing blew up in the mid-80’s (this album is where my love of “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel would originate). The song on there is “It’s Like That”. The song is pretty slow, minimal musically and didn’t much catch my attention at the time. I would really become aware of Run DMC in 1986 when their re-make/collaboration of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” made it’s way into the Top 5 on the charts, the first hip-hop track to do so. The album would spawn several other hits with “You Be Illin'” and “It’s Tricky”. I would get the album on cassette. This album would be my favorite record of 7th grade until another little album would come out later in the year called “Licensed to Ill” by the Beastie Boys. At the time “Licensed to Ill” would eclipse “Raising Hell”, but over the long haul they’ve both developed a special spot in my heart and have remained constant musical companions over the last few decades now.
Both Chris Rock and Chuck D have referred to the album as one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time and I have to agree with them. The only song on the album I generally can’t hang with is “Dumb Girl”, which ultimately isn’t even that bad, it’s just kinda stupid and sub-par for the album. Otherwise so many great songs on this – “Peter Piper”, “My Adidas”, “Proud to be Black”, “Raising Hell”, “Hit It Run” and more.
I remember when I was working at the Mattress Factory in the mid-2000’s, I sometimes got to work with some of the teenage interns/volunteers that were involved at the museum. There was this one young man, African-American, who was clearly into rap and seemed to be heavily into the various Cash Money Millionaires artists. He told me that his mom got him a copy of “Raising Hell” and made him listen to it. He called it “corny” and my jaw dropped. I tried talking him into giving it another chance but I don’t think he was buying it.
“Son of Byford” is just a quick 28 second song. The lyrics are just a verse stripped from the song “Hit It Run”; no modification t the lyrics, just delivered raw with only a beatbox accompaniment. It’s a curious little track to have on the same album/same side of album as “Hit It Run” but it actually works out great. The stripped down sound of this song provides a perfect set-up for the booming attack that is the beginning of “Proud to be Black”. Not necessarily a song you listen to on its own but a fun track nonetheless.