1. “Focused, ferocious, fierce.”
In the early '80s, hip hop was an underground genre supported by bootlegged mix tapes. Under the management of his big brother, Russell, Run-D.M.C. brought hip hop out to mainstream. Run shared the stage other heavy hitters like LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys but proclaimed himself as the star. Grabbing mike stands and throwing them around, Run was a bit of a diva.
“I was very competitive,” he says.
Everybody wanted a piece of him. Rolling Stone flew the band to Los Angeles for an interview. Though atop the Billboard charts, Run says he was actually at the bottom.
“I was trampling everything around me to get to the top,” he says.
He demanded the presidential suite, and while he bathed in the hotel’s jacuzzi tub, eating french toast and smoking weed, everything changed. Syrup and ashes fell into the water while reporters, girls and drug dealers knocked at the door, and Run had a revelation.
“I was extremely swagged out and B-boyed out, trying to get everything at once,” he says. “And then I came to this realization—I was empty.”
2. “I knew I could have things, but I didn’t want to let them have me.”
This syrupy incident would forever change Run’s life. After finding the largest pictorial bible he could, he turned to the church and “began rejecting success.” Run became an usher at a local church, where he would still get recognized, but felt a powerful calling to spread God’s word.
3. “Many of you have a vision, but there’s so many haters out there. Don’t let the haters talk you out of what’s yours because there’s never been you before.”
Being a hip hop superstar and an aspiring minister leaves you in a tough position. Neither Russell or Snoop Dog understood what he wanted to do, but Run stayed focused despite the laughter. “Delay does not mean denial,” he claims.
He was ordained a pentecostal minister by his spiritual mentor, E. Bernard Jordan, whom Run generously thanked with a Rolls Royce Phantom.
Rev Run’s new ministry grew immensely in 2005 with the debut of Run’s House on MTV and has grown steadily since launching his Words of Wisdom twitter, which boasts over three million followers. His ministry is all about mercy, not condemnation.
“I’m not the preacher that says, ‘You’re in trouble, leave them hoes alone!’” he says. “I’ll never come down on someone. You can smell from the tweets that I’m not judgmental.”
4. “Outwork everyone around. It’s always the diligent person that impresses the universe to release its blessing.”
Run stresses the importance of persistence and hard work for anyone trying to make it in the world, pushing the youth in the audience to knock on their chosen fields' doors until they open.
“If you’re not open, you’re got gonna make it in life,” he says.
Run shared a parable on the importance of openness. He originally hated the “fugly” Phat Farm classics, but Russell wanted his endorsement. He finally opened up to the idea (after agreeing to pocket half the profits), and good thing he did because “they made [him] so many millions of dollars it was crazy.”
5. “As a matter of fact, I think you’re ALL geniuses.”
The Reverend is down with times. Nicki Minaj and Drake got special props from the legend, though he thinks hip hop must stay connected to its roots to survive. Youth today have boundless opportunities open to them. Social media provides everyone a way to establish an artistic identity and fan base, just like his son Diggy did “all by himself.” Most importantly, though, don’t give up.
Rev Run was brought to USC by Carolina Productions. To check out their full list of events, check out their website HERE.