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Darryl McDaniels

Darryl McDaniels

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Also Known As: Daryl Mcdaniels (D.M.C.), Darryl Mcdaniels, Darryl Matthews Mcdaniels Died:
Born: May 31, 1964 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York, New York, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One third of the first rap group to gain mainstream superstardom, Daryl "DMC" McDaniels was a founding member of Run-D.M.C., which burst out of New York City in the early 1980s with an aggressive, stripped-down sound that virtually laid the blueprint for modern hip-hop. With Joseph "Run" Simmons and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, McDaniels elevated rap from the club scene to the pop charts on the strength of such forceful, boast-heavy tracks as "It's Like That," "King of Rock," "My Adidas" and their breakout hit, "Walk This Way," a collaboration with Aerosmith that made them the first rap act to reach the heights of the R&B and pop charts. Personal problems and changing musical tastes undermined Run-D.M.C.'s popularity in the early 1990s, during which McDaniels delved deeply into his own past to discover his adoption at an early age. His quest for self-discovery informed much of his subsequent creative and philanthropic efforts while he continue to pursue a music career as both a solo artist and as part of Run-D.M.C. A pioneer in rap music for over three decades, Daryl "DMC" McDaniels was a key figure in the genre's rise from underground sensation to part of mainstream popular culture.Born May 31,...

One third of the first rap group to gain mainstream superstardom, Daryl "DMC" McDaniels was a founding member of Run-D.M.C., which burst out of New York City in the early 1980s with an aggressive, stripped-down sound that virtually laid the blueprint for modern hip-hop. With Joseph "Run" Simmons and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, McDaniels elevated rap from the club scene to the pop charts on the strength of such forceful, boast-heavy tracks as "It's Like That," "King of Rock," "My Adidas" and their breakout hit, "Walk This Way," a collaboration with Aerosmith that made them the first rap act to reach the heights of the R&B and pop charts. Personal problems and changing musical tastes undermined Run-D.M.C.'s popularity in the early 1990s, during which McDaniels delved deeply into his own past to discover his adoption at an early age. His quest for self-discovery informed much of his subsequent creative and philanthropic efforts while he continue to pursue a music career as both a solo artist and as part of Run-D.M.C. A pioneer in rap music for over three decades, Daryl "DMC" McDaniels was a key figure in the genre's rise from underground sensation to part of mainstream popular culture.

Born May 31, 1964 in New York City, he was adopted by a family in the Queens, NY borough of Hollis and named Darryl Matthews McDaniels. His initial passion was athletics, but after hearing the pioneering hip-hop act Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, McDaniels was driven to try his hand at learning DJ skills with equipment given to him by his older brother. In 1980, he teamed with friend Joseph "Run" Simmons, whose older brother, Russell Simmons, managed such hip-hop acts as Kurtis Blow, with whom the younger Simmons performed as a DJ. Though initially reluctant to perform for an audience, McDaniels gave up his DJ equipment and adopted a variety of monikers, including "Easy D" and "DMcD" before settling on the stage name "DMC." After graduating from high school and beginning studies at St. John's University, the pair began performing at Two-Fifths Park in Hollis, where many local DJs performed and competed. There, they caught the attention of Jason Mizell, better known as Jam Master Jay, and whose street gangster attire - snap brim fedora, leather coat, thick gold chains and unlaced Adidas sneakers - was soon adopted by the group, which set them apart from the then-traditional hip-hop attire of track suits or flashy club wear. The trio approached Russell Simmons, who had formed his own label, Def Jam, with Columbia University student Rick Rubin, about recording a single. Simmons became their manager after dubbing the trio Run-D.M.C. - a name they initially disliked - and co-produced their first single, "It's Like That/Sucker MCs" (1983), which landed them a contract with the fledgling rap label Profile Records. Run-D.M.C.'s abrasive, minimalist sound immediately established them as a harder-edged alternative to the disco-driven tracks favored by other New York hip-hop groups. The new direction also proved popular with listeners, who sent the single to No. 15 on the R&B chart.

Subsequent releases, including "Hard Times" and "Rock Box," which marked one of the earliest mergers of rap and rock-n-roll," further established Run-D.M.C. as the vanguard of a new movement in hip-hop, a notion underscored by the release of their self-titled debut album. Their second album, King of Rock (1985) continued their cross-pollination of genres, but their true breakout came with 1986's Raising Hell, which featured a duet with Aerosmith on the latter group's concert staple, "Walk This Way." To the surprise of many, the single shot to No. 4 on the Billboard 100, while the record itself became the first rap album to top the R&B charts and reach the Top 10 on the pop charts. It was also the first hip-hop album to reach platinum sales status, while the videos for "Walk This Way" and "It's Tricky" were the first to receive regular airplay on MTV. But as Run-D.M.C. rose to the top of the music business, McDaniels began to unravel from the pressures of touring and recording. He developed a serious drinking problem and was twice arrested for public intoxication. Simmons soon fell victim to his own drinking and legal problems, and Mizell was twice injured in a car accident and subsequent shooting. The mounting turmoil within the Run-D.M.C. camp had a deleterious effect on their careers, with Tougher than Leather (1988) failing to match the success of Raising Hell and its follow-up, Back from Hell (1990) earning brickbats from critics and consumers alike for a revamped sound that embraced the pop-R&B-friendly New Jack Swing movement.

Both McDaniels and Simmons sought refuge in their faith, which informed their comeback album, Down with the King (1993). Featuring a Who's Who of early '90s rappers including Jermaine Dupri and Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, the record returned Run-D.M.C. to the top of the R&B charts and the Top 10 on the pop charts. The revival, however, proved short-lived: Simmons devoted more of his subsequent energies to becoming an ordained minister, while McDaniels invested himself in a new marriage and family. Touring remained a constant for the group, which eventually left McDaniels exhausted and depressed. His battle with alcohol was soon hampered by problems with prescription drugs, as well as a vocal disorder called spasmodic dysphonia, which caused involuntary spasms of the larynx muscles. In order to preserve his failing voice, he pushed for a less aggressive sound for the group's music, which put him at odds with Simmons. McDaniels subsequently refused to participate in all but three songs on the group's 2000 album, Crown Royal, which was a dismal failure. A truce of sorts appeared to take place on their subsequent tour with Aerosmith and Kid Rock, which received widespread praise. But at the height of what appeared to be a second comeback, Simmons decided to pull out of the tour, leaving the future of Run-D.M.C. in doubt.

McDaniels turned to penning his autobiography as a means of exorcising his personal and professional demons. In researching his early life, his mother revealed to him that he had been adopted, which led him to seek out his birth mother. He released the autobiography, King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility and My Life with Run-D.M.C. in 2001 shortly before the shocking murder of Jam Master Jay in 2002, which ended any possible chance of a full-fledged group reunion. McDanields delved deeper into his past before eventually meeting his birth mother, which was chronicled in a 2006 VH1 documentary, "DMC: My Adoption Journey." His efforts to promote adoption and foster children, which included the creation of The Felix Organization, which sent adopted children to summer camp, earned the 2006 Angels in Adoption Award, a tribute bestowed upon individuals by members of Congress. That same year, McDaniels released Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll, his first solo album, which saw only moderate sales. He subsequently participated in a variety of projects, from the documentary "The People Speak" (2009) to a Frank Zappa tribute album while also recording a second solo effort, The Origins of Block Music. Slated for a 2010 release date, the album was delayed indefinitely. In 2009, Run-D.M.C. became the second rap act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

By Paul Gaita

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Roll Bounce (2005)
2.
 Scratch (2001)
3.
 Tougher Than Leather (1988) Dmc
4.
 Krush Groove (1985)
5.
6.
 I Love The '90s (2004) Interviewee
7.
 JKX: The Brad Gluckman Special (2003) Featuring
8.
 Hip Hop Babylon (2003) Interviewee
9.
 I Love the '80s Strikes Back (2003) Interviewee
10.
 I Love the '70s (2003) Interviewee
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