Down With The King
After three unsuccessful singles from the group's previous album, "Down with the King" became Run-D.M.C.'s second-biggest hit after "Walk This Way", peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming their only single to reach the top spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart.
Down with the King
Down with the King is the sixth studio album by American 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.
With the release of the new album, Run-D.M.C. created a new look: All black Walker Wear outfits, 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.
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..."
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.
Rap star Money Merc (Freddie Gibbs) has been sent by his manager, Paul, to a rural house in the Berkshires to focus on his next album. Disenchanted with his music career and the 24/7 upkeep that such fame entails, Merc has no desire to write or record music. Instead, he spends most of his time at his neighbor's farm learning about farming and enjoying the simplicity of country life. After Merc abruptly announces his retirement on Twitter, Paul rushes to the countryside to lure him back into the music industry.
With its logline of "rapper goes to live with farmers," if Down With the King had been pitched to a major studio, it would have ended up a goofy comedy starring Kevin Hart. Instead, writer/director Diego Ongaro and MC Freddie Gibbs craft a drama that is both observational and enigmatic, and will resonate with the vast number of people coming out of the pandemic ablaze with burnout.
The pitch seems glib, but rather than some hackneyed scene about Mercury Maxwell (Gibbs) breaking down in some podunk town, or some whackiness with his entourage and the locals, Down with the King begins with real farm life. Maxwell on a small farm in Massachusetts, dressed completely inappropriately for the setting, in that kind of early morning awe that you only get when you're out in the countryside, and the sun is just right, and the mist is perfect. Then he's helping farmer Bob (actual farmer Bob Tarasuk, from Ongaro's 2010 Sundance breakout-turned-2015 feature Bob and the Trees) butcher and dress a pig in the barn. And he's into it.
It's hard not to detect a trace of bitter irony in the title, a name loaded with meanings, and shared with that of Run-D.M.C.'s 1993 comeback album. That's when they dumped the by-then passé bucket hats and gold chains for harder beats and rhymes that kept them in the conversation with the new generation of megasellers like Snoop and Tupac. Gibbs and, by inference, Maxwell are the heirs of that inheritance, and it's clear neither is too happy with where that's left them. Down With the King the album was a response to a rap scene that was leaving the originators behind: Down With the King the film is about a musician abdicating his throne, an existential crisis laid out with delicacy and insight.
There's an improvised feel, much of it due to the fact that neither Gibbs nor Tarasuk are seasoned actors. Instead, they freely inhabit their characters. Gibbs in particular fills the seemingly-indomitable Maxwell with doubt and self-doubt. He gives the story particular insight into the rap game (a pointed conversation about the genre's violent baggage is especially loaded), but never lets the narrative fall into the easy traps of the "musician moves to the country, falls in love, finds new life in nature" predictable path.
Those beats are there but Down With the King plays against them, especially in Maxwell's burgeoning relationship with shop worker Michaele (Neumann, The Deuce, Lovecraft Country). It's a plot we've seen hundreds of times (it's one wrecked fence from being Doc Hollywood) but there's an edge of desperation, of Maxwell trying to break out of the life he no longer wants but realizing that he can't just put on a new rural existence like a fresh pair of sneakers. It's not a learning curve about becoming a son of the soil, but about finding himself, and much of that comes from working out what he isn't. That leads to desperation, and that's what Gibbs emotes subtly and powerfully. It's a portrait of confusion, Maxwell's nature obscured from himself as much as the woodlands (elegantly captured by cinematographer Daniel Vecchi one) are hidden by mists.
In its introspective honesty, Down With the King finds kinship with two other recent portraits of lost male identity: Sound of Metal and Moghul Mowgli, both starring Riz Ahmed. But it's not in the music industry backdrop they all share: rather, it's in that shared sympathetically-depicted search for a sense of self after all the old metrics become meaningless.
Written by Xabi Molia and Ongaro, the film follows rap star Money Merc (Gibbs), whose disillusionment with the music industry and the pressures of being a celebrity sends him away from the city to re-evaluate his career and finds himself in a small-town farming community.
Down with the King is the second feature from Ongaro, whose feature debut Bob and the Trees premiered at Sundance 2015 and went on to win the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The cinéma vérité influences on the film are understated and seductive, but the flashiest moment comes when Merc is lured back to New York City for a massive concert, apparently attended by tens of thousands of bouncing, screaming fans. It was actually shot in the Berkshires, with a shockingly small number of actors. Ongaro and Vecchione achieved it with carefully selected stock images, excellent sound design, and by shooting a few masked extras, filmed from behind.
Edit- THEY CUT THE PART WHERE I WAS MEAN TO FREDDIE! Devastating, but you still get to see my nice smile :) will be watching today, my review for the film will be an in depth breakdown of my experience working on the film, so stay tuned!
Detailed here is my experience working as a production assistant on Down With the King! ?At the end of September 2020, I was asked to be a production assistant on Down With the King, a feature film my pops was doing some legal work for. I had just begun my third year at SCAD, and since online classes (Covid-19) were somehow even MORE dreadful than normal SCAD classes, I jumped on the opportunity, and flew out to the Berkshires, where the film was shot.
A very good pastoral with Freddie Gibbs playing a rapper more or less like himself that relocates to the country and pretty much gets into the place rhythms. Very predicted in shift between labor, physical and creative, and leisure. Director Diego Ongaro finds a good distance from the characters and how they position themselves in relation to its surroundings. He is great faces and places in a way that few recent American indies have been. It feels very loose, there's a review here from a guy who work as PA in it and he mentions it had no finished script and it is easy to see that, but it has a very good intimate feel. Gibbs is quite good and the movie keep us very aware between how its production represents a very similar in between moment for him as the stay does for his character.
Down with the King is a fairly straightforward tale about a rapper who becomes disillusioned with his own work and retreats to the country side, something we also coincidentally saw on Atlanta very recently and something that has happened to several high profile hip-hop artists in recent years. And again, what happens is straightforward and predictable, but you stay invested in Freddie Gibbs performance, which while very similar to himself, still feels very natural.
Gibbs: Yeah, I think so too. Working with Jamie in particular, I think that helped sharpen me up. She is so seasoned as an actor, and that was a blessing, that I got to work with her real closely. I took some things from her as well. 041b061a72