Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons of Run-D.M.C. and wife Justine Simmons, will appear at SCADshow on Monday, Feb. 3, for an appearance and Q&A session. The couple’s book includes many photos from their personal collection.

Run-D.M.C.’s Rev Run talks ‘Old School Love’ book, Aerosmith and Kobe Bryant

After 25 years of marriage, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and wife Justine have a lot to share.

About love.

About commitment.

About communication.

About, as Rev (as in Reverend) Run said, “not so much looking in each other’s eyes, but looking in the same direction.”

Sage advice from a member of one of hip-hop’s most influential voices, Run-D.M.C.

The couple instituted their stories and advice in their new book, “Old School Love: And Why It Works,” which they will talk about on Monday at a SCADshow event in Atlanta.

But this isn’t a compilation of gushy, baby-I-love-your-way sentiments. Marriage is an ongoing process, as the cliché goes, and the Simmons’ provided an anecdote during a joint morning phone call from their New Jersey home about the previous night’s book appearance in Brooklyn as proof of their continuing effort.

“(Justine) was having a lot of fun doing the interview, and I was very serious,” Rev Run said. “We got in the car, and she looked at me and said, ‘What’d I do?’ And I knew what she did. She was Lucy (as in Lucille Ball), and I was like a daggone pope up there. So we worked through that. We took 15 minutes to talk about that little spat, and we woke up happy, and she’s got her head on my chest right now.”

Added Justine (presumably from head-on-chest position), “We handle our problems right away. Joey and I, we constantly try every day to work on our marriage.”

"Old School Love" details how the Simmons' approach their 25-year-plus marriage.

While the couple achieved a new level of visibility in the mid-2000s with the MTV reality show “Run’s House,” it took much prodding from the public for them to decide to tell their love story, which includes their shared commitment to scripture.

“We kept getting questions as we walked the streets. People loved ‘Run’s House,’ and people were writing on my Instagram, ‘You need to write a book,’” Rev Run said.

“We also wanted to let people know little tidbits about the stuff we learned from marriage, trial and error,” Justine continued. “Things that we don’t do anymore or try not to do. Being selfless instead of selfish. In a partnership, it has to be both give and take.”

The Simmons’ shared their stories with author Amy Ferris, allowing her to document recollections about their anniversaries and Valentine’s Days, how they treat each other at home and when traveling, and, said Rev Run, “How we made it through this part of our life. After the defeats, after the pain, after the glory.”

Run-D.M.C. commanded MTV throughout the ‘80s with their shell-toe Adidas and rap-pop crossover hits “You Be Illin’,” “It’s Tricky” and a groundbreaking collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of the rockers’ “Walk This Way” (which they revisited at last week’s Grammy Awards — more on that later).

The "Old School Love" book includes photos from the personal collection of Rev Run and Justine Simmons.

Life at the pinnacle of entertainment success delivers a bounty of benefits, but Rev Run, who became an ordained minister at Zoe Ministries in New York in the 1990s, met his wife in the midst of his spiritual awakening.

“You weren’t going to get girls walking up to Rev Run. I got with (Justine) during a very church-y time,” he said, and then added with a laugh, “You get different responses on LL Cool J’s page than on my page.”

Justine said the fact that her husband performed in a hugely successful rap group never concerned her because of the immediate security she felt with Rev Run.

“When I met him, I was a jealous person. But because he secured me up, I wasn’t jealous anymore. It was so trusting. For Joey and I, one reason we also don’t cheat is that we fear God,” she said.

“My boss is God,” Rev Run added. “I’m not going to let him down.”

Joseph Simmons (left) of music group Run?D.M.C., Steven Tyler of music group Aerosmith, and Darryl McDaniels of music group Run?D.M.C. perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy/TNS)

Music is still important to Rev Run, and the Run-D.M.C. legacy was resurrected for that special Grammy performance. Rev Run and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels agreed to join Aerosmith on the show simply because it would be enjoyable (third member Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell was fatally shot in a Queens recording studio in 2002).

“Steven Tyler is a character,” Rev Run said of the iconic Aerosmith frontman. “He was all, ‘we’re gonna do this and that.’ He’s strong. He’s a good dude. We didn’t get a chance to rehearse much, so it wasn’t very organized, but it was fun.”

Given that the Grammys shifted focus to honor basketball great Kobe Bryant, whose shocking death earlier on the day of the ceremony cast a melancholy cloud on the event, Rev Run was happy to talk about the athlete, who also tip-toed into music.

“We started making some music years and years ago,” Rev Run said of Bryant. “Through Adidas, he came to us, and we started something, just putting down some rhymes. Nothing ever came of it, but we had a great night one time in the studio.”

The Simmons’ will be busy promoting their book, and Rev Run offered a succinct summary of what he thinks is the most valuable lesson contained in it.

“When we talk about old-school love, we’re talking about responsible love,” he said. “You can’t just let a relationship flutter around. It’s almost like being a scientist.”


Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and Justine Simmons

7 p.m. Monday. $26.99 (admits one and includes one signed copy of book), $31.99 (admits two and one signed copy of book). SCADshow (hosted by A Capella Books), 173 14th St. NE, Atlanta.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.