Reverend Run: Pray this way

He brought rap to the masses. Now, Reverend Run is bringing family values to TV. Gill Pringle meets an unlikely minister

In a schedule filled with reality-TV shows in which foul language and disrespect are applauded, a new programme has emerged that stands out from the rest. Cursing and bad behaviour simply won't be tolerated in Run's House, where Reverend Run, formerly of the seminal rap group Run-DMC and now an ordained minister, rules his five children with tough love and plain old common sense.

"Call me old-fashioned," says Run, 45, whose bling-tastic lifestyle seems anything but, "but sometimes you have to say 'no' to your kids, even if they don't want to hear it. My family is my ministry. I'm gonna raise it up with or without the cameras."

Having initiated the genre of fishbowl celebrity families with The Osbournes, Newlyweds and Meet the Barkers, MTV breaks from its winning formula with Run's House, a show that can be described only as wholesome. "Reverend Run is one of the great pioneers in hip-hop," says Brian Graden, president of MTV Music Group. "While Run's House gives viewers an inside look at the lives of hip-hop royalty, audiences can relate to and laugh along with the family whose life is fundamentally about heart, humour and everyday challenges.

"After the massive success of The Osbournes, we had a number of celebrities come to us with ideas for reality shows based on their families, but we would only do something that is organic and has a strong connection to the MTV audience. Run's House is both of those," says Graden, noting that Run-DMC were the first rap group to air their video on MTV.

It also helps to have friends in high places. Run's big brother is the rap mogul and Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons, and his production partner is Sean "Diddy" Combs. "Rev Run is a legend and one of the most interesting individuals I know," Combs says.

In Run's House, the Reverend and his wife, Justine, deal with the usual challenges of family life - albeit in a palatial New Jersey home complete with swimming pool and a new Rolls-Royce - raising their five children, whose ages range from nine to 22. A product of generation bling, the kids, dubbed the "hip-hop Hiltons", still manage to come across as sweet and genuine. Vanessa, 22, is a Ford model and aspiring actress; Angela, 18, wants to be a fashion designer. Run's sons JoJo, 16, and Diggy, 10, both rap like their dad, while Russell Jnr, nine, just wants some attention.

But the Reverend isn't your average dad and, in between attending church and composing daily sermons on his Blackberry from the luxury of a bubble-filled bathtub, he still finds time to offer marital advice to his pal Diddy as well as splurge on a Mercedes for Angela's high-school graduation gift. "I think maybe the more well-heeled you are, and the more a person has, the easier it is for the kids to become pompous. The best way to combat that is to always be in your children's business," says Run.

"I make sure that none of this goes to their heads by dealing with them face-on. We go to church and have constant meetings. I won't tolerate any cussing from my children, and they respect that."

The show also serves as a valuable marketing tool for his fledgling solo career, Run-DMC's 19-year union having officially ended in 2002 with the murder of the group's DJ Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell). Bursting on to the scene in 1983 with the classic single "It's Like That", the trio followed through with hits such as "My Adidas" and "Christmas in Hollis". And they famously collaborated with Aerosmith on an audacious remake of "Walk This Way", which became the first Top 10 single in hip-hop history.

But by 1991, the hits had dried up and Run was dealing with depression and weight issues when he met Bishop Jordan, founder of a newly formed non-denominational Christian church called Zoe Ministries. "Bishop Jordan rejuvenated my life and predicted unimaginable business success," recalls Run, who later expressed his gratitude to Bishop Jordan with a $325,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Born Joseph Simmons and educated at a Catholic school in Queens, New York, Rev Run will never be described as your traditional man of the cloth, and he is no believer in poverty as a virtue. "Poverty should never have been a virtue and whoever came up with it, it was a misunderstanding, but they preached it so hard. I don't see how it can be a virtue, because sickness isn't a virtue, and being impoverished - that's not a good thing either," he insists.

Run recently published Words of Wisdom, a collection of personal "daily affirmations of faith". His WoWs, as they're referred to, are broadcast on various US radio stations and e-mailed to several thousand private subscribers and friends, among them Kid Rock and the X-Men 3 director Brett Ratner, who insists: "I won't shoot a scene until I read Rev's Words of Wisdom in the morning." Ratner cast Run in a small role as a janitor in Red Dragon, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Run-DMC may have been the acceptable middle-class face of rap, but they certainly had their moments. Run was charged with raping a college student in Ohio in 1991 although the charges were later dropped. But he is philosophical about the past. "There's nothing to regret, and I wouldn't consider myself to be a total holy man," he says. "I abide and pray a lot and do the best I can. But it wasn't like we were the craziest group. We always had good messages in our music and we were pretty well respected. We weren't trashing dressing rooms. I'm not perfect - I'm not even perfect on the show."

Run's brother Russell Simmons is less understated: "The world needs Rev Run to show his reality. He's hip-hop grown up. This show is 'Father Knows Best' on steroids," he says.

The season finale of 'Run's House' airs on MTV at 7pm on Sunday, repeated on MTV Base, 10pm, 13 June

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker