Before he attracted a whole new generation with the reality TV show “Run’s House,” and before he became a reverend, Rev Run was known simply as Run. With DMC and Jam Master Jay, Run built the trio known as Run-DMC, the first rap group to achieve gold status and reach mainstream success with a Grammy Award nomination.
The group’s hits include “It’s Tricky,” “My adidas,” and “Peter Piper” and they achieved crossover success when they paired up with legendary rockers Aerosmith in “Walk This Way.”
Now, 25 years later, Rev Run has found a new audience and has achieved crossover success in another forum: religion.
Rev Run will be in Las Vegas over the weekend (May 14-15) to live up to the Rev part of his name with a speaking engagement at Central Christian Church. Then, staying true to his Run roots, he will take over the turntables and mic with DJ Ruckus on May 18 at Lavo’s Old School Wednesdays.
We caught up with Run to talk about finding the balance between being Rev and Run.
VEGAS.com: You will be Central Christian Church and Lavo in the same week, do you normally try to speak at a church and perform at a club in the same city?
Rev: I don’t do it often. I like the contrast of it too. But it’s the Rev and Run, I love it. It’s pretty unique. You got the Rev part doing the church and the DJ Run part doing the Lavo, it’s definitely cool. I’ve never done it like that, usually I go do a DJ gig or I’ll go to do a college and do some speaking or maybe a church. I don’t do that many churches, but I do quite a few college lectures. It’s interesting, I love it.
VEGAS.com: How do the different audiences receive you?
Rev: I’m not bragging, I’m pretty cool. Think about it, you come, you know I’m Run DMC. You come, you’re a kid and saw “Run’s House,” and you know I made Peter Piper, Walk This Way. So you come and I got kind of a cool young audience because of Twitter and everything. I’m in a very sweet spot to tell you the truth. When they come to the gigs I’m with DJ Ruckus, who is actually Lenny Kravitz’s nephew, and he’s the biggest DJ around, he’s like huge. And we do it together, we DJ together. So it creates the Run part, you want to see Run DJ, as a celebrity from Run DMC and from “Run’s House,” because the kids know me from “Run’s House,” and then you got the older guys that remember me from “My adidas.” So you come and rock with that, you’re not thinking too much of religion, you’re thinking Run from “Run’s House,” and from Run DMC. And then when you go to a speaking engagement or a church or something, you know the legendary Run from Run DMC is a reverend, you know that part. You don’t say ‘I’m coming to just get the word,’ you will get the word, but you’ll also get the little cool factor; it’s a celebrity coming to your church in a way…
VEGAS.com: How do you find balance between being a rapper and a minister?
Rev: If you look at the Psalms and stuff, all those were like poets. The Psalms and the Proverbs, they were poets. A lot of those Psalms were poetry, so I’m a man of God, but I’m a DJ, rapper, poet type dude. It’s like a plumber becoming a Christian, he doesn’t use the Bible to fix the sink, he still knows how to be a plumber. I don’t use the Bible to go DJ. In a way I do, I use my faith. It kind of comes natural that I’m a good DJ. It also comes natural that I have a relationship with God and something to share my journey with God and some knowledge of how to navigate on this Earth.
VEGAS.com: You have more than 2 million followers on Twitter, are you surprised with how many followers you have?
Rev: …You can look at it and see that certain rappers don’t even have a million followers and Rob Kardashian has a million followers. People get into your life once you have a reality show and I have a lot of people who loved my show and my words of wisdom, once you got there, the word was, ‘Wow, his words of wisdom help you have a good day. If you’re having a hard day, go to @RevRunWisdom.’
VEGAS.com: “Run’s House,” I thought, was an extremely popular and honest reality TV show. How did you get involved with the show?
Rev: People just came up to me like my brother (Def Jam and Phat Farm founder Russell Simmons), Andre Harrell, P Diddy, word was just out, they saw me around like, ‘This is the coolest thing ever. This guy is Run and now he’s a reverend and his kids are gorgeous.’ They was like people don’t know, they need to see this. So a lot people starting coming around and seeing how I ran my household, the way I was all healthy and everything was good and they’re like, ‘Man, people need to see this.’ So I started getting people asking me, ‘You should do a reality show like the Osbornes, then people would bug out.’
VEGAS.com: Your son, Diggy, was signed by Atlantic last year, Angela and Vanessa have their own company, what does it mean to you to see your children now carve their own identities?
Rev: I tell you what, it’s really cool. It’s really a big breakout for Diggy, it’s really a big breakout for Pastry’s (his daughters’ Angela and Vanessa shoe line). The only thing I could think of is I’m grateful, that’s it. I don’t have another thought. I’m proud, I’m grateful that I was able to have a show that was able to give them an edge and then they could jump into what they wanted to do with a little bit more power than somebody without that edge of having people know who Vanessa and Angela was. You saw Diggy, found out you thought he was cool before he thought about making records. He had his own fan base of little girls and people who thought he was a cool dude on our show then they found out he could rap it was a whole ‘nother element. Vanessa and Angela already had a company that can distribute sneakers so they were able to put out Pastry’s, JoJo started Team Blackout and worked with Global Grind. So, yeah, there’s been benefits of having that show to show what my kids were about and you can make a decision whether you like them or not.
VEGAS.com: You were a part of a cypher for BET with two of your sons, Diggy and JoJo, along with Ice Cube and his two sons. How did this idea come about?
Rev:…Diggy was really the power there because somebody from his record company called and said they want you and Diggy to do a freestyle on that thing and I text Diggy, I was like he probably going to say no, he doesn’t want to hang with his dad. Then he called up and said I’m down. Then they called a day later and said they want JoJo too, I was like OK I’ll tell JoJo too and JoJo was like I’m down. It was great to be able to do it with our kids. It was cool being able to hang with Ice Cube. It was fun and fantastic.
VEGAS.com: You are in Vegas a lot, what do you like about Vegas?
Rev: Vegas is the best thing ever to me. I want to say Hawaii, but I say no I’d rather go to Vegas. I want to say Bahamas…Vegas is off the chain. The shows, it just offers so much, the beautiful hotels, the Wynn, the Bellagio. It’s just indulgent and incredible and the food, you put a quarter in the machine and you can win money if you feel like doing that. It’s just fun. The whole place, when you don’t live there obviously, it’s the most exciting thing. If you live there you can go broke gambling or can just go crazy, but it’s the coolest place in the world to me.
VEGAS.com: Is there anything that you have to do while you’re here?
Rev: I hotel hop. I go from hotel to hotel going in the little shops and eating at the restaurants and maybe going to a play. It’s crazy man. There’s no specific (place I go to), the mall, buy a pair of sneakers just because I’m there, some socks. Man, it’s crazy all the waterfalls and things going on, free things, cheaper food. It’s an amazing place man, it’s amazing. I don’t have a specific thing. I hotel hop. I like the broken glass in the Bellagio’s lobby, I like the Venetian (which) has the gondola, that’s crazy. New York is cool, but it doesn’t have all of that. The second I get there the whole Strip is just bright and happy and all the owners of the hotels are rich and looks just incredibly happy and sunny and rich.
If you’re visiting it’s a fun place, I would say it’s the best place, and you don’t have to gamble to have fun. It’s just everything is going on there: plays and Celine Dion, comedians. I don’t know of a place that’s better for me.