It’s been a long, strange, fun and fulfilling road for Joseph Simmons, aka Rev. Run. From being a Founding Father of hip hop back in the day, he’s found new life in reality, and more recently scripted, television.
When we put it in this perspective during our Cocktail Convo, he took a moment to process it and then told us “Rev Run from Run-DMC is now a reverend who’s now a television star who hangs with his kids. The guy who made My Adidas is a father. Like the King of Queens and is rolling around on the floor laughing with his kids, like he’s Kevin James or something. It’s a lot.”
Hip Hop Hooray
Simmons isn’t a branch on the hip hop tree. He’s a strong root of the tree. As a member of Run-DMC they laid the groundwork for everyone to come, from Public Enemy, to Doctor Dre and Snoop, to Biggie and the family, to Lil Wayne and Drake today.
In an episode of his Netflix show All About the Washingtons, his son is trying to lay some sick beats, but Dad just isn’t feeling it. So we asked what he really thinks of the state of hip hop today.
To say he’s impressed would be an understatement. “I’m in awe of hip hop. Jay-Z. Beyonce’ playing stadiums. owning his own streaming service. Diddy selling cocktails. Drake rapping and singing at the same time. DJ Khaled owns the Earth.”
“LL Cool J’s the star of a monster show on television, what’s going on? Ice Cube and NWA, Ice Cube making television and movies, It’s bad. It’s a really incredible thing going on and all these dudes are amazing. Dr. Dre’s a billionaire. What’s going on? What’s going on?”
Keeping It Real
Though their music still resonates today, the fact is Run-DMC is about thirty years past their peak. But Rev. Run found a second act in reality TV and he brought his family along with him.
His show Run’s House ran for five years, and gave fans a look at his life, including his wife Justine and their five kids. And from their, opportunities just kept coming. One reality offer after another poured in. There was Rev Runs Around the World, It’s Not You It’s Men, and Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers to name a few.
Then something happened to change things up. “We were doing our reality show, Run’s House, and we had a cooking show, and we had a couple of realities. And I got a call from LL Cool J to do Lip Sync Battle. “And we were there getting ready to do Christmas in Hollis, and some guy comes up to me and says sign my sneaker please, I love you, Here, talk to my kids, take the phone. And turns out that was LL’s agent.”
Agents are always looking for opportunities and he saw a chance to take the Simmons to the next level. “He was like ‘what do you think of scripted?’ and I never, I got these shows, and I said talk to my manager.”
“He connected me to all these powerhouse companies. Steven Spielberg, ABC television, Netflix. It came so quick at me. And next thing you know, make a long story short, we ended up with a sitcom instead of a reality show.”
And from that came All About the Washingtons, a fictionalized version of Joseph and Justine’s lives. They played the parents, but the kids on the show were played by actual actors. We didn’t love the show, but that doesn’t diminish our love of the Simmons.
The fact is, reality and scripted TV are two very different beasts, as Justine was quick to acknowledge. “A newfound respect for their work. It’s different. Just the whole studying lines, and how they changed the lines, But we love it. We do love it.”
Joe also noticed the difference, saying “Rewrites all day long. Taking things that were good and like this isn’t as good as the first thing you wrote and this is the fifth thing. Writers are just crazy.”
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A rich pinot noir. Now that he’s a Reverend, we’re gonna have this and pretend it’s a large helping of communion wine, and use it to wash down the collard greens that he raps about in Christmas In Hollis.