The divide between white music and black music has always been a sharp one, for all that there has always been crossover. Most of the white British rock musicians of the 1960s (The Who, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, etc.) owe their very existence to the black American blues musicians of the 1940s and 1950s (Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, etc.). And yet, the divide has often remained.
In 1986, the rock group Aerosmith had fallen into obscurity, while the rap group Run-DMC were rising stars. Then (and now), a collaboration between a white heavy-metal-tinged rock group and a black rap act was pretty much unheard of, and yet Run-DMC collaborated with Steven Tyler and the gang to do a cover of Aerosmith’s 1975 hit “Walk This Way.”
It remains one of the great collaborations in modern music history, a glorious breaking down of walls (a metaphor used to good effect in the video).