Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels On Trump, Releasing New Music & Comic Books
"Run-DMC are The Beatles of hip hop."
When Run-DMC's Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels speaks to you, it’s as if he’s speaking to 200 people rather than some journalist down the phone, (which is what he is doing). His voice raised to a level needed to address a town hall, DMC is eloquent, passionate and more than happy to speak at length. It's refreshing, considering that a lot of interviewees would probably prefer to eat a kilo of lead instead of doing three days of promo.
In MTV's interview with DMC, the legendary rapper spoke about collaborating with Run The Jewels, Chuck D and more for his new album, how comic books gave him the confidence to become the Devastating Mic Controller and more. Considering that most of my phone calls are either from EE or cold callers that can’t pronounce my surname (“Hi, is that Mr. Fot-Her-Jill?”), this quickly became one of the better phone conversations I’d had in twenty years, especially when, instead of telling me about new lyrics, DMC rapped them down the phone instead.
MTV: "Hello! Everyone knows about Run-DMC, but not everyone knows about your passion for comic books. Could you tell us about your new exhibition, The Art of DMC, which is coming to the Hang-Up Gallery in London, please?"
DMC: "All I did as a kid was collect comic books. That was my whole existence. I didn't know that this was going to set...me...up to be THE MOST POWERFUL ENTITITY IN THE HIP-HOP UNIVERSE! Everything that I got from comic books was the energy to dominate the life.
"What I'm doing in London is what I've always been doing with hip-hop, with what the art has always been doing. It's touching and changing people's lives through the medium of art.
"If you listen to 'King Of Rock', Run says: "I'm DJ Run, I can scratch." I didn't say: "I'm DMC, I can rap,” I said, "I'm DMC, I can DRAWWW." It wasn't until 86 when I was doing all my superhero sketches in my sketchpad, that I picked up the ink pen to write even more exhilarating and powerful rhymes.
"It's kind of like when people look at me now, they're like: "Oh, DMC's doing a comic book and he's getting into art as his next thing" - no! Art was my first thing, and I'm proud of that part of my life with the people I've been sharing all my rhymes and beats for the last 30 years."
MTV: "Raisin’ Hell turned 31 this year (15 May). How do you feel about that?"
DMC: "That's CRAZY. It doesn't even feel like 31 years. THIRTY-ONE? That's craaaazy. Lots of the journey was a blip (laughs) because everything happened so fast.
"We made a record, it was a hit, then we made another record, it was a hit, then we made the album, and then that did good. All along the way, a lot of people forget to say this, but, for my era, all along the way MTV made a lot of that possible because it put me in everyone's living rooms. It showed people this new art form and culture - well it wasn't really new, we stole everything from Rock n Roll - but that interaction and that growth and development of this new hip hop culture…I can't even comprehend that that was done 31 years ago.
"It doesn't make me feel out-dated or anything like that, it's kind of like a badge of honour for me, because hell, I feel like I'm a so-called classic rocker, know what I'm saying? I've been around that long; you can say Run-DMC are The Beatles of hip-hop."
MTV: "A lot of YOUFFFS will be reading this. What advice would you give to the people out there looking to follow in your footsteps?"
DMC: "So, for any artist, look at what everybody's doing and do something completely different. For example, everybody was riding with the same crowd, and then Run-DMC came along. All we did was say, "hey, nobody's rapping over rock records". And that's what we did. We changed the damn world just by changing up one little difference to make us not keep doing the same thing as everybody else.
"I'll always tell people: everyone wants to be an athlete, everybody wants to do this - it's not about being a part of your so-called 'game'... I hate it when people say 'the rap game'. It ain't no game, man. It's a culture. It's a way of life. I take this hip-hop thing seriously. It's my life. You know what I'm saying? I'm the head vampire that's given the opportunity to watch over all the other vampires. But, being in the music business is a game. Being in the art and culture and hip-hop is a way of life.
"So, whatever it is that you do, add your flavours to that thing. When you sculpt, add your flavours to that sculpture. When you write a play or movie, add what you want to see in a play or film. Just make sure you have something that is unique. So, to really answer the question - don't do the bullsh*t that everybody else is doing just to make a cheque (laughs)."
MTV: "You’ve got a lot of new music coming this year. I saw that you’re working with Sum 41, which must be fun for them considering that they started a band because of you. Who else have you been working with?"
DMC: "So here's the plan for the next couple of months: in June, I'm dropping a single with the incomparable, immortal Joan Jet. Then at the end of August, I'm dropping 'That Girl Fishin’' with a rock god, Sammy Hagar. And then in November, I'm dropping a song called 'Comin' Like A Rhino' with Chuck D and Slaves On Dope, a rock band out of Montreal Canada, as our backing band.
"This new album is fun, this new album is creative, this new album is educational, motivational, inspirational. There are incredible ways that we've covered topics that affect everybody politically, socially, spiritually and religiously. And just to give you a sense of the intensity, here’s one of the rhymes of the record: "You can search all you want to / but you will never find no / He's Mr Soft, Mr comin' like a rhino / Me and Chuck D were in a hard rhyme though / Ass has no teeth and you will get your mind blown". That's what's about to go down."
MTV: "Thank you for doing that."
DMC: "(Laughs) you know, I've been working with Sum 41, Tim Armstrong, Travis Barker…I'm hooking up with Run The Jewels, Killer Mike and El-P… I'm in talks right now to do something with Alice Cooper. But what this album is, is some of the best musicians in the last 50 years of rock, punk, indie rock and hip-hop...you know, I'm the hip-hop element...coming together just to create some new, fun songs. We think that the experience of music is missing right now. Because everybody is so caught up on being famous because of the music. We just want to make good music and the music be famous, not us."
MTV: "You mentioned there that the new album would reflect political and social issues that affect people today. Music has a way of awakening people to the culture they’re actually living in – is that what you’re trying to do with this new record?"
DMC: "Yes, yes, yes. Everybody is on the outside, looking in, and saying: "OOO OOO OOO OOO". And most of the people on the inside are going "ME ME ME ME ME". So, we're the artists, starting on the outside, telling people, “no, get over there and say "US US US US US".
"I’m always telling people - my generation of my hip-hop, and most generations of iconic rock stars, even though they were iconic wealthy rock stars, they still made records that addressed the issues of the people in the audience. Bob Dylan. Neil Young. John Lennon. Paul McCartney. Whether it was the Vietnam war, civil rights, women's libs, social issues like unemployment and crime, they never forgot that that's the foundation of not only our musical existence but their relationship with that audience.
"We are stars, on this album, throwing away our celebrity. And we're just becoming creators and artists and most importantly voices for the people that can't talk about the things that need to be talked about in the way that needs to be talked about.
"With everything that's going on over here [in the USA], it's an interesting record. I'm not disrespecting Trump, I'm just telling you the truth about what Trump is doing. You know what I'm saying? Everybody wants to diss him, [call him] a fool, this and that. WE ALREADY KNOW THAT (laughs).
"Trump alone is not the only one. In America right now, you can be illiterate, you can be a total fool, you can be an asshole, you can be the most disrespectful piece of sh*t on the face of the Earth, but as long as you're selling, getting 20,000,000 views, making a lot of money, they will put you on TV and celebrate you. But they will forget about the person over there who can inspire and motivate people, who touched 500 people last week. We need to support that person. We need to bring awareness.
"We did this song about police shootings, and radio didn't want to play it. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, they'll bring on politicians, and they'll show the riot, but they won't talk about what my record talks about because it's too serious and too to the point. Just to give you a taste of it, the opening lyric goes: "Unnecessary bullets / Unnecessary bullets / Get your finger off the trigger / There is no need to pull it / Unnecessary bullets / Unnecessary bullets". And what I mean by that is, in 99% of all police shootings that have happened here in America in the last ten years, the cops shouldn't have pulled the trigger. This is what this record is saying. All the police needed to do was put their guns back in their holsters and talk to those individuals, and that alone. Hopefully, everybody will see that we can sit down and dispute and change all of the situations that are addressed in our society."
Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels' exhibition, 'The Art of DMC', will be on at the Hang-Up Gallery in East London from 11-25 June 2017.
Hang-Up has teamed up with the head printer, Diego Mena, from K2 Screen to create our exclusive limited edition DMC print. Want to win the exclusive print? Head here to find out more.
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