DMC - INTERVIEW
Transcript of interview with Darryl Mcdaniels DMC 22/5/98
by Miguel DSouza
MIGUEL: Hows it going, my names Miguel DSouza,
Im calling you
DMC: Whats going on...
M: Aah, not much, not much. I hope you dont mind me calling
Daryl, Ive got a brother called that so I feel perfectly comfortable
calling you that...
M: Okay. Thank you very much for your time. I thought Id
get into it
straight away, cause weve got fifteen minutes. Whats the current
situation regarding Run Dmc and an album, or the material that youre
D: Were going to be on the road, booked up like crazy up
October. So hopefully in October we can get off the road and go into
the studio. Weve been on the road doing 20 to 25 dates a month since
we released Down With the King back in 1993. Its been non-stop
touring since and even though we havent done a studio album since we
did the Down With the King album, were one of the few bands, not
only in hip-hop, but in music period, that can work forever and still
be successful...at this point, were like oh we dont even got
make records to keep our career going, well just keep doing this
until were 82 years old...
M: What sort of dates, shows, and venues are you doing...
D: Most of the dates, up until this Jason Nevins thing came up,
been doing alot of colleges, universities, all the big radio
festivals (sic), radio shows, we play all the hip-hop clubs and all
the rock and roll clubs. This is what is going on in the States. As
we were getting ready to come out to Europe just to come anyway ...
see our main thing is the live show, in any shape, form or fashion,
thats the fun for us, all the other stuff is work, but we kept
getting calls because we knew about Jason Nevins record coming out,
although we didnt have nothin to do with it, the record company
played it hey, listen to this, were releasing this house mix of
Its Like That. Alright cool, cause we were out on the road. But
now, the booking agency is getting all these calls because theyre
saying youve got a number one record in Europe, and its number one
over there and its number one in Australia and the records big in
the UK. So when we were coming to Europe we did a whole month in
Germany, this record has given us some momentum to come out here and
introduce a whole new generation of fans to hip-hop. not just Run
DMC, but to hip-hop.
M: I saw the other day that Its Tricky has been done, is
D: Yeah, the record companys releasing a Jason Nevins
mix of Its
M: Aside from the boost its giving to awareness of hip-hop
awareness of you, whats your personal opinion of it?
D: I think its a good record.
D: Yeah...I mean we dont listen to house and we dont
do house at
all, thats one music that were not really involved with but, when
we heard it we thought it was a good record, I mean just as good as a
Madonna house mix, or Mariah Carey or Janet Jackson. I mean Ive
heard house remixes of rnb records, I just havent heard one
rap record. Ours was the first.
M: Its been an amazing voyage for all of you since the
D: Definitely, sixteen years in hip-hop is just ridiculous.
M: Its unheard of, even in the sense that youve had
a sixteen year
career, I dont anyone else can claim that..
D: Right, weve seen every rap group break up and most rap
come out one year and go out the next year and some rap groups are
very lucky to last even three years. But weve been able to do it
because we dont focus on the industry or the business standpoint, we
do what was done in rap before rap records was made, that means we DJ
live, we scratch with the records, we rap and we freestyle and that
what has allowed us so long without an album. If we depended on
albums, our career would have been over because, especially the way
the industry is, people like you one year, (laughs), they go out and
buy your albums and by the next year theyre tired of you. People
dont get tired of what we do, thats why well last forever.
M: So in a live sense, youre able to keep on practicing
artforms. Can I ask you, on the live performance, youre doing 20-25
dates a month, are you still required to wheel out the old tunes as
D: Thats the biggest part of it, over in the States
knows about this record or cares about it, (referring to Jason
Nevins remixes) we live off all of everything we made from 83,
which was the original Its Like That... from 83 to 93 is what
live off and thats the expectation that people have for the new
record. This new record is just a novelty, I would think, its more
important for the younger, new fans who probably werent even born
when we put out Its Like That. They think were a new group and this
is a new group and they watch the video and think thats the type of
music we all make. But now, since theyre releasing the greatest hits
when the new fans go out and buy the greatest hits for the Jason
Nevins remix, they get My Adidas, Walk This Way, Peter Piper, Its
Like That, Sucker MCs...and theyre probably saying Wow! Whats
This! Theyve realised this is what Run DMC does...
M: Theres alot of firsts in your career, you were the first
rock and rap, you were also the first crew to get a serious shoe
D: By adidas.
M: Nowadays clothing sponsorship and hip-hop are virtually
synonymous, even underground crews, who havent even got a major
record deal, havent even sold a record, are already sponsored or
they might have a shoe contract or something like that. You started
all of that, how did it work in your day, has it changed much?
D: No its still the same, because the companies realise
see its not...its funny, because the fans are wearing the clothes
anyway, so its not like its making a big impact. People in my
neighbourhood, in the Bronx, in Boston and places like that were
wearing adidas anyway. But I think giving the artist a contract and
giving them free stuff is basically you know another medium of
promotion. See we really didnt understand that because we made My
Adidas way before we even got the deal with them. So it wasnt like
it was something big to us, it was aah cool, we got the deal...
M: I saw an interview with you at the time and the impression
was that this was something you thought was cool-looking to begin
D: Definitely. That was what we always wore. I grew up wearing
Adidas. It wasnt like we said were going to make a fashion
statement and were going to wear Adidas and dress the way we dress
because that was what distinguished us from all the early rap groups
because we didnt have no costumes, we came dressed as is, and thats
what made the fans relate to us more than any other rap bands because
when they looked up on stage and seen us it was like looking in a
mirror. But for people who werent involved in the hip-hop scene it
was something new to them, it didnt make them run out and buy Adidas
and the gold chains just because they thought it was something hip to
do. And the sneaker companies knew that and thats why to this day
theyll give, the underground crews more of the clothing that theyre
buying anyway just to keep them draped in it.
M: This is a broad question, Im throwing this one to you
youve been around for sixteen years and could be for another sixteen
years..what do you think of what has happened to the way a hip-hop
crew can develop these days...
D: Its exploitation basically. What I mean by exploitation
whatever happens in hip-hop isnt positive for the evolution of hip-
hop, but its just now the record companies dont spend any time for
artist development. Its like they search for whats hot, once this
thing is hot they put it out there all over the map but if next year
youre not popular, they drop you. They dont understand that rap is
a creative medium, just like any other part of entertainment, or even
other parts of music. But thats the only different thing that I can
see thats going on in hip-hop today, I mean most hip-hop bands have
got a life-span of either one to three years... and thats it. Thats
why in Run DMC we dont focus on the record-making, we focus on how
many shows are we going to do this month, and hopefully we can go
around the world...the only reason we lasted so long is because were
doing what was done before hip-hop records was made. Forget about the
video, forget about the producer, forget about the album, lets see
the DJ DJ live. My DJs better than your DJ, my DJ deals for real,
your DJ uses a DAT and pre-recorded tape. Run DMC, they rap live, we
dont rap over no tape, we have a whole bunch of hit records that
would be just freestyles on a tape if we didnt have a chance to make
records. Thats what distinguishes us from everybody else. Everybody
else is rhyming for the money, produced by this big-shot producer,
dressed, its like a package that is built. Run DMC is what is what
was always there.
M: Is it hard not to be cynical?
D: What do you mean? Criticize other people?
M: What youve given me is a pretty good analysis of whats
now, but its not as cynical as I might expect... staying true to an
ideal keeps you focussed as an artist and keeps it interesting too,
its still an artform that you practice, rather than being purely a
business youre involved in...
D: For us the art comes first, therefore were happy to
get paid for
something that we like doing. Theres a bunch of groups that will
always be here when others are not. LL Cool J hell always be here
because he does what he does, KRS-One, hell always be here, Public
Enemy, Rakim just came back. But alot of these new groups thats out
now, you know, I wonder do they have the vision or the heart that we
have. Cause basically its a money-driven industry too. Rappers are
getting alot of money. When we started, we paid alot of dues, we
opened alot of doors, but right now, you get alot of money when you
sign a deal, the big record companies are really interested in you,
like when we started, the big labels wouldnt even look at us because
they thought rap wasnt selling nothin.
M: What broke it for you?
D: It aint broke nothin for us, because were
still on the same
label weve been on since 1983. But what broke it for other rappers
was people seeing that when we sold that first album and it went
gold, was the record companies realised oh, rappers can obtain
platinum status...rap used to be just a bunch of singles...Sugarhill
Gang, Grandmaster Flash, The Message, nobody thought they would buy a
rap album, like they would buy a pop star, rock or rnb album. We
broke that, we broke the mould, we broke the mould by getting rap on
M: This was another first. You were a group that was strong enough
string together a series of successful albums...
D: Exactly, and that set it up for those in the industry that
M: The one thing that you heavily influenced in alot of rap to
and alot of rock to come, and I tend to believe that you really
breathed life into rock music, as well as giving rap a real kick
along, but you did more for rock when you did stuff with Aerosmiths
record. Does that come about through mucking about with records and
D: We used to rap over rock records before we got a chance to
our own records because had to find records with beats. And rock
records, James Brown records, they always had a break in them where
the drums would just play, and maybe a bassline would play with the
drum, or maybe a rock guitar would play with the drum, cause we
couldnt rap over the vocals. So rock, not just for Run DMC, but for
every rapper before us, was a big part of our repertoire. You had to
have rock records inside your record case to give a good performance,
because not only did they have the break that you needed, but it was
hard and rap in the beginning was a hard music. Before rap started
fusing the way it is today, where you got alot of rnb-type rap.
M: And what about the environment that created alot of the early
groups. Yourself, youre from Hollis?
D: Hollis, Queens, New Yooooork.
M: And what about some of the other neighbourhoods, the South
has always been really pivotal in terms of creating early rap. How
have those environments changed, and do you think those environments
continue to bring the best out of the new groups that come out?
D: Definitely, thats why rap isnt coming out just
from the South
Bronx or Hollis Queens anymore. Thats why youve got rap coming out
of Los Angeles and rap coming out of Texas and rap coming out of New
Orleans and Florida and places like that. Youve got rap in Japan and
rap in the UK, you got native rappers of their native lands, thats
because the same thing thats happening in the Bronx is happening all
over the world, its just that the Bronx is the first place to bring
it out, people thought this was so shocking, but all the attitudes
and all the problems with society and community are all over the
world and as rap grows, so does the attitude and this type of
mentality which brings out whichever type of rapper you want. NWA and
all the so-called gangsta rappers were no worse than Grandmaster
Flash when they came out with The Message, cause people were shocked
by The Message, you know broken glass, everywhere, people pissin on
the station (sic), turn stick-up kid, look what you done did, got
sent up... you know The Message was shocking to some people, to be
talking about jail and prostitution and stuff like that. When NWA
came, they were just reflected what was going on in their society and
as rap gets bigger, more and more people come out of the woodworks,
and you realise that crime and violence are all over the world. When
rap first started, rap was supposed to be a release and an
alternative to all the bad stuff that was going on in the hood,
thats why rappers started rapping, youd rap because you didnt
to be in a gang no more, you know what Im saying, youd rap and
youd join a breakdance team because instead of fighting, youd have
M: I know you talk about rap reflecting its background, what
rap making suggestions, rap rather than reflecting, rap suggesting
possibilities for a different future or environment. Do you think rap
D: Same way Bob Dylan did it, same way John Lennon did it, same
all the great writers and poets and people like that do it to their
music or whatever. I think rap is like, rap is the music of hip-hop
and hip-hop is the culture and a way of life and hip-hop is gigantic
right now, so same way Public Enemy came with their message and same
way KRS-One gives his message, same way Run DMC give their message,
the message is definitely in the music. And music is the best medium
to carry it with
M: Its really refreshing that sixteen years doesnt
cynical, it makes you positive about things, its also a realistic
way looking at things...
D: Right. Were going to be around, the same way the Rolling
are still jamming in their late fifties, youll see Run DMC, rapping,
scratching and jamming in their late fifties.
M: I hope so.
M: Thanks for your time, good luck with the tour of Australia,
everyone from misty-eyed old b-boys to your new fans are looking
forward to it
D: We on the way.