The 2020 Grammy awards show has given music fans a lot of big moments tonight, but maybe none more iconic than the reunion of Aerosmith and Run-DMC performing their classic 1986 cover/remix of "Walk This Way." This marks the first time the two groups have performed the song live together since 2002. The song is notable as being one of the first ever mash-ups of rap and rock, which was also done frequently by the Beastie Boys, and would go on to merge more in the future with bands such as Limp Bizkit and Body Count, the rap/metal band fronted by rapper and Law & Order: SVU star Ice-T.
Regarding the song's iconic legacy, Washington Post national arts reporter Geoff Edgers opened up to Here & Now's Robin Young about its importance in the music industry.
"There's a false idea here that Aerosmith — the rock gods — came in and helped Run-D.M.C. become popular. And what in fact happened was Aerosmith — the fallen rock gods, who were really in terrible shape ... [were helped by] Run-D.M.C., they were the first rap superstars," Edgers said, as reported by WBUR. "Before this record, they had already sold a couple million of their previous record, and they were young and energetic, and they were rising.
"I would say they saved Aerosmith, and they were kind of the sacrifice for that. This wasn't great ultimately for Run-D.M.C. But for Aerosmith, it just totally relaunched them," he added.
Edgers also spoke about Run DMC's rise to fame, explaining, "Run-D.M.C. emerges in the early '80s, and basically, in clubs, there is hip-hop. You've got deejays as early as ... the mid '70s. But there was no actual music industry for hip-hop, because what would happen is, you'd have these great groups and deejays and MCs in the clubs, and then the record company would come in and sign them, and they would turn them into disco with some rapping over it."
He continued: "So people always think of 'Rapper's Delight' as one of the first hip-hop songs, and it is, but it's really a disco song with rapping over it."
Finally, Edgers said, "You can listen to 'Rapper's Delight,' which is by The Sugarhill Gang, and then you put on 'Sucker MCs,' which is one of Run-D.M.C.'s first songs, and it's startling, the difference. What Run-D.M.C. did is they took the sound of the playground and the club, and they actually put it on record."
In addition to "Walk This Way," Aerosmith opened the performance with their 1993 hit "Livin' On The Edge."
The Grammys air Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.