Down with the King is the sixth studio album by hip hop group Run-D.M.C., released on May 4, 1993 by Profile Records. The album was produced by Pete Rock, Q-Tip, EPMD, DJ Kay Gee of Naughty by Nature, Jam Master Jay, The Bomb Squad, Daniel Shulman, Run-D.M.C., Chyskills, Jermaine Dupri and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon.
Showcasing their evolving style, this innovative album boasted invited guests, including reggae star Mad Cobra and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. The album features guest appearances from rappers Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Q-Tip, EPMD and Onyx. Down with the King was generally received more favorably by fans and critics than the group’s previous album, Back from Hell.
Thanks to the title track, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA after only two months, July 20, 1993. Down with the King peaked at number 7 on the US Billboard 200, and number 1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
The album was reissued by Arista Records in 1999 and 2003.
With the release of the new album, Run-D.M.C. created a new look: black jail suits, black Timberlands and bald heads. DMC replaced traditional glasses with contact lenses and began to wear around his neck a large black wooden cross. Run started wearing sunglasses. Jay began to wear a designer ski hat by April Walker to cover his own bald head.
The album received positive reviews. Jason Lymangrover from AllMusic said “The new sound is decidedly more fashionable, and their fedoras and Adidas are abandoned here for bald heads and baggy black hoodies to match their new gangsta musical direction; which takes an obvious cue from Onyx (signed to Jam Master Jay’s label), whose “Slam” was a platinum hit earlier in 1993.”
Rolling Stone (6/24/93, p. 83) gave Down with the King three and a half stars out of five, saying “…straight-faced and ultraconfident, funky and forthright…[has] the same infectious enthusiasm and the same in-your-face attitude as Run-DMC’s raw earlier classics…”
Entertainment Weekly (5/7/93, p. 56) gave the album “B”, saying “…they still manage to sound young, lean, and hungry after 10 years in the rap game….”
Gil Griffin from The Washington Post praised the album by saying:
On “In the House”, Run and DMC rap references to their old hits, including “My Adidas”, while the rock guitar-powered “Big Willie” makes one long for the power chords and tag-team shouts of 1985’s classic cut “King of Rock”. But looking forward and taking a cue from Naughty by Nature, Run often raps in a style and speed similar to that group’s Treach, with DMC joining him to shout the choruses of “Come On Everybody” and “Can I Get It, Yo”, something young hip-hoppers from Das EFX to Fu-Schnickens are doing. And the tempo and chorus of “3 in the Head” make it a dead ringer for the Cypress Hill song “Hand on the Pump”. Be it mimicry or tribute to the current hip-hop styles, “Down With the King” boasts expert production, and its consistently up-tempo pace makes it the perfect soundtrack for summer parties
Two video clips were released on songs from the album: “Down With The King” and “Ooh, Whatcha Gonna Do“. In the video on the title track, which was directed by Marcus Raboy, a lot of rap stars were filmed: Eazy-E, Redman, Kris Kross, Jermaine Dupri, Phife Dawg, Onyx, Salt-n-Pepa, KRS-One, EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, MC Lyte, Kid Capri, Das EFX, P.M. Dawn and Naughty by Nature. Onyx also appeared in the video for the song “Ooh, Whatcha Gonna Do”.