An Interview with Darryl McDaniels from Run-DMC

Amin Shah, Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Thursday, April 14th, 2022 Darryl McDaniels visited the Amityville school district to spread the news of his new children’s book ‘‘Darryl’s Dream.” The book was written with Amityville alumni Shawnee Warfield and her husband, Johnny Warfield, who both work in education. It was a great way to end the week before vacation, but to fully understand the greatness of this visit, a short profile of the rap group is required.

A Short Profile on Run DMC:
Run-DMC is an American hip-hop trio made up of Darryl McDaniels, Jason Mizell, and Joseph Simmons founded in 1983. They were the first prominent hip-hop group that shaped the entirety of rap and modern hip-hop that is heard today to come afterwards. They combined rock, pop, and hip-hop to create a sound that defined the 90s, 2000s, and even music heard today. They popularized the hip-hop genre and allowed for the globalization of hip-hop music, going on tours in Ukraine, Russia, Hong Kong, Asia, and other nations. Some of their popular albums include their self titled (which is their debut album which includes Rock Box, my personal favorite Run-DMC song), King of Rock, Raising Hell, and Tougher Than Leather. Their most popular songs include ‘‘It’s Tricky’’, ‘‘My Adidas’’, and their collaboration with Aerosmith ‘‘Walk This Way’’, which crossed the regions of rock and hip-hop for the very first time. As a group, they have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Soul Train music award, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award, and were placed into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Darryl’s Message
McDaniels entered the auditorium after being introduced by Ms. Warfield, and he had much to say to the students of Amityville Memorial High School. He wanted to recognize that being there, in front of the youth of America is cooler than being at the MTV, AMA, or Grammy awards. Watching all of those artists and celebrities at the awards and trying to emulate them to be ‘‘cool’’ is not ‘‘cool’’ at all. Being inspired by them is fine, but trying to emulate them and ignore the struggles they went through in order to become the successes they are today is not healthy. Learn from the things they did wrong in order to motivate yourself to not do those same things. He also stated how to not take the easy way out, in school and in life. Using skills to work together as a group and even doing homework and the work in school now is preparing you for your ‘‘life assignment’’, which will allow you to continue in the pursuit of what you want to do when you are older and follow your dreams. Build up monetary value and garner resources by investing in or by taking full advantage of the resources already offered to you (such as school). He made sure to emphasize that the only thing that changes from generation to generation is technology, stating that the same opportunities to influence a generation of people (even more so now) are up for grabs. The music of hip-hop itself is not just a song, but it is fashion, what the youth look towards, and how young people can utilize what they have. Hip-hop offers an outlook in life by those experienced in taking advantage of what they have to better their life and get out of their bad situations and for people to follow their example. He made sure to make a point on how many realize that Steven Tyler from Aerosmith knocking down the wall in the music video for ‘‘Walk This Way’’ with Run-DMC was not just in the video, but was worldwide. This cultural breaking of musical borders forever impacted the world of music, which Darryl himself realizes. No other rappers or other hip-hop artists today would be around (or at least how they are today) without the influence of Run-DMC. He closed this discussion with what DMC stands for. ‘‘D’’ stands for determination, ‘‘M’’ stands for motivation, and ‘‘C’’ stands for concentration. Try to look for the ‘‘school stuff’’ for the things you like and pursue what you want to do until you obtain it. There was much to take in, but the words of Darryl are forever wise and are great ideas to think of and develop upon to improve your future and the possibilities that regard it.

The Interview
The interview really only consisted of two questions, but the answers were plentiful. The first question I asked McDaniels was: ‘‘What is your opinion on the musicality of modern rap?’’ With that, I received the (paraphrased) response that there is good music within today’s rap and hip-hop genres, but hip-hop today is about having fun. The genre has a responsibility, as it dictates the lifestyles of many youth, back then and today still. People can rap about guns and strippers, but only if they release an album afterwards about the damage being done when guns are used and to appreciate mothers and families. The rappers today should care about their audience and the content they put out to them. There are great beats today (that Darryl claimed he would flow on, which I can totally imagine) but lazy rhymes that may sound uninspired. Hip hop’s effects on design fashion, design, and words themselves offer a life presence to those capable of displaying them correctly.

The second question I asked to Darryl was one I personally wanted to know, which was: ‘‘What are your favorite albums and/or songs?’’. He responded with: ‘‘I basically listened to everything from the 60’s ending with probably Pearl Jam, Audioslave, Alice in Chains’’. He added that a lot of rappers listen to their own music, but he doesn’t. He loves to explore music and listens to a lot of it, especially rock (which I find very admirable). Sharing playlists with Darryl could prove to be fun if the circumstances even reach that possibility, but who knows?

Continuing on, Misha (our editor-in-chief) asked him a question about one of his failures “that became the most important one along the road?” To this, he answered that he and his bandmates went through every major label and could not get signed onto one, but they kept looking and were signed on to an unknown label, but this did not stop them. When opening for acts such as Marvin Gaye, George Clinton, and ZZ Top, they went from door to door (when they arrived in the town of the concert) and introduced themselves, which ended up usually being met with the door being slammed on them. They pushed through, as many believed that hip-hop was simply a fad that would die in a few months. So one of the keys to their success was their determination to continue what they were doing, regardless of what everyone else told them.

All in all, the event was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am so glad that I went to this instead of the college fair (there is always next year anyways). Although, those extra minutes in AP Seminar that I missed were annoying. Regardless, I count this mini-interview as a personal highlight of my life now.