|Darryl “D.M.C.” Matthews McDaniels is an American musician. He is one of the pioneers of hip hop culture and founding members of the hip hop group Run-D.M.C.|
McDaniels grew up in New York. He attended Catholic schools, and later enrolled in St. John’s University in New York City.
McDaniels first became interested in hip hop music after listening to recordings of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. In 1978, McDaniels taught himself to DJ in the basement of his adopted parents’ home, using turntables and a mixer given to him by his older brother, Alford. During this period he adopted the stage name “Grandmaster Get High.”
Later that year, McDaniels sold his DJ equipment, after his friend Joseph “Run” Simmons acquired his own turntables and mixer. After Jam-Master Jay--who had a reputation as the best young DJ in Hollis joined the group—Run encouraged McDaniels to rap rather than DJ. Gradually, McDaniels came to prefer rapping to mixing records, and adopted the nickname of “Easy D.” In 1981, he dropped the “Easy D” moniker in favor of “DMcD,” the way he signed his work in school, and then to the shorter “D.M.C.” D.M.C. alternately stood for “Devastating Mic Controller” or his nickname since childhood, “Darryl Mac.”
In 1984, the trio released their self-titled, debut album and than became very successful in the hip-hop industry. The group’s success continued to grow and reached its peak with their third album Raising Hell. The album went to #6 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on its Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making Run-D.M.C. the most popular hip-hop group at the time. During this time, McDaniels began to build a reputation as a heavy drinker. He was known to drink up to eight 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor a day and was arrested twice for public intoxication and driving while intoxicated.
In 1997, McDaniels began to slide into a deep depression. He became extremely unhappy with the rigorous routine of touring and performing. He hated being away from his wife and newborn son. He began to rely heavily on prescription drugs and alcohol to ease the pain. While on tour, McDaniels noticed his voice was giving out. He was later diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a vocal disorder which causes involuntary spasms of the larynx muscles. He believes it was caused by the aggressive way in which he performs his lyrics compounded with the years of heavy drinking.
Meanwhile, McDaniels began to have creative differences with his bandmates in Run-DMC, which by then, was well past its prime as a commercially successful hip-hop group. A longtime fan of artists such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Harry Chapin, McDaniels wanted to move towards a slower, softer sound which suited his now troubled voice. Run wanted to continue with the aggressive, hard rock-edged, sound that the group was known for. These disagreements caused McDaniels to sit out most of the recording of Crown Royal. He appeared on only three songs.
Feeling depressed and suicidal, McDaniels heard Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel” on the radio. The song touched McDaniels so deeply that it inspired him to reassess his life and career. He credits McLachlan and her album Surfacing with saving his life. With a new outlook on life, McDaniels decided to write his autobiography. While researching his early years, his mother, Bannah, revealed a shocking secret: Darryl was adopted when he was three months old. According to Bannah, his birth mother was a woman of Dominican descent named Bernada Lovelace. He also learned that he was born in Harlem, Manhattan, not Hollis, Queens, as he had always believed. Even as a child, McDaniels knew that he did not look like the rest of his family, and with the revelation, he finally understood why. The news inspired him to go on a search for his birth mother and ultimately, himself. He began working with the VH1 network on a documentary chronicling his quest. His autobiography, King of Rock : Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC, was released in January 2001.
In February 2006, VH1 premiered the documentary titled DMC: My Adoption Journey. The program ends with McDaniels reuniting with his birth mother, who turned out to be named Berncenia and despite previous beliefs, was not, in fact, of Dominican descent. He thanks her for her choice because had he not been placed for adoption, Run-D.M.C. would have never existed. In March 2006, McDaniels released his long-awaited solo album, Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll. The first single, “Just Like Me,” features an interpolation of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” performed by McDaniels’ musical savior, Sarah McLachlan. During a recording session, McLachlan revealed to McDaniels that she, too, was adopted.
In September 2006, Darryl McDaniels was presented with the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for his work with children in foster care and promotion of adoption. He founded a summer camp providing 170 foster children a childhood experience.
He is currently working on writing an updated autobiography (his earlier autobiography, King of Rock : Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC. The first draft of the book was written before McDaniels found out that he was adopted. McDaniels was also said to be working on a second solo album, for which he gave the title The Next Level. Three tracks off the new album have been released (“Next Level,” “Hip Hop,” and “Beef Eater”) and can be heard on his myspace page.
McDaniels is featured in the 2008 video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith singing Run-D.M.C.’s singles “King of Rock” and “Walk This Way.” He is also an unlockable guitarist in the game. In the game’s trailer, it is revealed that McDaniels’ son plays Guitar Hero for hours on end each day. In June 2007, McDaniels joined Aerosmith on stage at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London, England to perform ‘Walk This Way’
In 2009, McDaniels performed in The People Speak a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”
His second solo album, the more rock orientated The Origins Of Block Music was due out in summer 2010, however has been delayed.
McDaniels currently resides in Wayne, New Jersey with his family.