This was Run–D.M.C.'s first single. It became a club favorite along with its popular B-side "Sucker M.C.'s."
The song was written by the group's rappers, Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darry "D.M.C." McDaniels, and their producer, Larry Smith. There are no samples on the track, which was programmed on a Oberheim DMX synthesizer with vocal punctuations mixed in. It was Simmons who came up with the idea for the song after studying Kurtis Blow and getting encouragement from his older brother Russell (Blow's manager), who encouraged him to tell stories in his raps and give them a wide appeal through universal themes. "I thought I'd just tell people what the world is like, and how to improve themselves," said Run. "This was the seed idea for 'It's Like That.'"
This was the song that convinced Russell Simmons to work with the group. His younger brother Joseph (Run) had been pestering him for a while, but Russell insisted he finish high school before making a record. Run and D.M.C., who hadn't yet teamed up with Jam Master Jay, worked to together on "It's Like That," with D.M.C. adding some lyrics and hooks to Run's song. The pair graduated high school and went to separate colleges: Run to LaGuardia Community College (studying mortuary science) and D.M.C. to St. John's University. Teaming up with Jam Master Jay, they recorded this song with Russell's Rush Productions, getting lots of help from Rush's musical director Larry Smith. Russell was so impressed with the track that he sent them on his Fresh Fest tour with Newcleus and Whodini, and helped them record their debut album
In 1998, house music producer Jason Nevins remixed this, and the new version became the most successful rap single in the UK, spending six weeks at #1 and topping the charts in 30 other countries including Germany. Nevins received a standard fee of $5000 for his efforts.
When this reached #1, Run DMC became the first band to wait for over 10 years between their first hit ("Walk This Way
" in 1986) and their first chart topper in the UK.