The rapper who once performed with Aerosmith and had a generation of teenage partygoers screaming, "Walk This Way," is now just hoping he can keep his own teens in order and make sure they turn the lights off in his house.
The singer-turned-spiritual leader known as Rev. Run is back on MTV, both with new videos for his upcoming solo album "Distortion," and as the star of his own Osbourne family-style reality show, "Run's House," which premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET.
"It's a big deal to me," said the Rev. Run, who is a father of five. "People may not want to see me like this … but this show is really going to be good for me, to me. I'm here to inspire. It's going to show what I'm doing now, what my life's about now."
That includes his transition from chasing album charts and filling arenas as part of the rap trio Run DMC to becoming a religious leader who attends church three times a week, and concentrates on his family – making sure his children don't get too spoiled.
"Now I'm like, 'Turn the lights off in the house!' Or telling my kids, 'I know you didn't just throw that half of an ice cream away," Run said to an audience at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall during the recent College Music Journal Festival in New York.
He said his show may be based in reality but it will seem like a sitcom, with conflicts, comedy and a positive message. The show begins each week with one of his daily words of wisdom that are posted on his Web site.
But what may shock old school hip-hop fans most may have nothing to do with Run's parenting skills – it just may be his current musical taste.
"I'm a peaceful man. I'm listening to old school Anita Baker," said Run. "People wouldn't believe it. I'm listening to Kenny G. I'm relaxing now. For real, I'm listening to real calm stuff."
Only a hip-hop legend could take a quiet vacation in St. Barts and end up being courted for a television series.
"People saw me and my family … and said, 'You're a reality show!'" said Rev. Run. "I was thinking, 'Really? I was just trying to raise my kids.'"
He said people were surprised to see a rebellious rap icon playing in the pool with his kids, and encouraged him to try for his own reality show.
Fortunately for Run, he has some solid connections in the entertainment business – so he asked his brother, Russell Simmons, to go make a deal.
Run said he really wasn't looking to make a big splash on MTV, and was hoping the series would debut on a less-prominent digital cable channel, before he got a call from "Puffy," who persuaded them to bring the show to MTV.
The resulting series, "Run's House," lets viewers peek into the daily life of his immediate family, as each of his five kids, ages 9 through 22, pursues a career in music, modeling or fashion.
He describes the episodes as a version of "controlled reality," meaning the producers would ask him and his family to adjust their schedules so confrontational conversations would be caught on camera.
Recording Beyond Run DMC
Run's return to the spotlight comes without his longtime musical partner, DJ Jam Master Jay, who was killed at his studio in Queens, N.Y., nearly three years ago this month.
As a pair, Run and Jay became two of hip-hop's first big stars as fans embraced their straightforward rap style with hits like "Mary, Mary," "Rock Box" and "My Adidas."
When his partner was killed, Run spoke at the funeral, and now says he is grateful he had little to regret since their tight friendship meant that nothing had been left unsaid. He was also comforted by the belief that Jay had accomplished a lifetime of work in his years. "Look at the legacy he left behind – he opened DJ schools and all this great stuff," said Run.
He said he moved on after Jay's death by focusing on redefining his own career purpose.
"What's left for me to do with my life beyond Run DMC? Maybe it's this album I have coming, but that became my focus," said Run.
So he headed back to the studio with little fanfare.
"I have no side artists, no great producers, no Pharrell [Williams]," said Run, referring to the hitmaking composer and recording artist.
He actually kept the entire process a secret so that no label executives would pressure him to update his sound and try to emulate current rap stars like 50 Cent and Jay-Z.
Run said he started recording and asked his producer to crank up the drums and let him get to work.
"And we will put little scratches of guitars and whatever we can find, just make it real steel sounding … and I will scream on the top of my lungs and that's what we did for 10 records straight," said Run.
"If you like Run DMC stuff – you pick up this album, it's going to feel exactly like Run," the rapper said. "It's going to smell like Run, it's going to have the feel of that old Beastie Boy, Rick Rubin-type of vibe."
If the fans don't favor that logic when the album debuts on Oct. 18, it's fine by this veteran act. In his mind, the album has already hit gold.
"The expectation is already made," said Rev. Run. "Is it going to be a hit? It's a smash because I had fun doing it. I loved it, it's all the process. So much, that I'm making another one now."