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Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

Hip hop artist Darryl “DMC” McDaniels was born on May 31, 1964 in Harlem, New York. He graduated from Rice High School in Manhattan in 1982, and enrolled at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, but did not graduate.

In 1982, McDaniels formed Run DMC with group mates Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. In 1984, Run DMC signed to Profile Records under the management of Russell Simmons, and released their first album, Run DMC. That same year, the group’s music video “Rock Box” became first rap music video played on MTV. In 1985, Run DMC released the King of Rock album. They became only the second rap group to appear on American Bandstand, performing the hit “Jam Master Jammin.” In 1986, Run DMC released the critically acclaimed Raising Hell album, which was their top selling album, reaching certified triple platinum status. Raising Hell featured the popular song “Walk This Way,” a cover of the 1975 Aerosmith single of the same name. In the same year, Run DMC became the first rap group to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and the first rap group to perform on Saturday Night Live. The group followed their success with albums Tougher Than Leather in 1988 and Back From Hell in 1990. In 1993, Run DMC released Down with the King, and after an eight year hiatus, Run DMC released their comeback album, Crown Royal in 2001. McDaniels released his first solo album, Check Thugs and Rock N Roll, in 2006.

McDaniels co-founded The Felix Organization, a nonprofit focused on children who grow up in the foster care system. In 2009, he and Run DMC were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. McDaniels authored an autobiography entitled King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run DMC, and a memoir entitled Ten Ways to Not Commit Suicide. In 2014, McDaniels created the comic book publishing imprint, Darryl Makes Comics. Run DMC became the first rap group to be awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

McDaniels and his wife, Zuri McDaniels, have one son, Darryl “D’Son” McDaniels, Jr.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels was interviewed by The Historymakers on August 26, 2016.

Accession Number




Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category
Marital Status



St. Pascal Baylon School

Rice High School

St. John's University

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season

All Seasons


New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

“My Whole Life Is A Big Vacation.”

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York



Favorite Food

Apple Pie, Rice Pudding and Red Velvet Cake

Short Description

Hip hop artist Darryl "DMC" McDaniels (1964 - ) was a founding member of the hip hop group Run DMC.



DMC Enterprises

DMC Comics

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darryl "DMC" McDaniels' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes his birth mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about his adoption

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darryl DMC McDaniels talks about the adoption laws in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers meeting his birth mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes his adoptive parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about his early activities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes his interest in comic books

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls his early experiences of bullying

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes the demographics of his neighborhood in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes the celebrity residents of Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls his introduction to hip hop music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls selling his comic books to buy deejay equipment

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels explains the process of mixing music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers 'Superrappin'' by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about disco and hip hop music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls listening to early hip hop music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls his early friendship with Reverend Run

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers the early hip hop artists

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes the early hip hop battles

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about the decline of musical education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes his high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers recording Run-DMC's first singles, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers recording Run-DMC's first singles, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls signing a contract with Profile Records

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls his aspirations while in college

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers leaving college to tour with Run-DMC

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels explains the origin of Jam Master Jay's name

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes his friendship with Jam Master Jay

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about Reverend Run and Jam Master Jay

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about Run-DMC's visual style

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls the premiere of Run-DMC's first video on MTV

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about Run-DMC's song, 'Walk This Way'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels describes the impact of Run-DMC's 'Walk This Way'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls the introduction of hip hop music to the mainstream

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Darryl "DMC" talks about Run-DMC's contribution to hip hop music

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers a gang brawl at a Run-DMC concert

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about contemporary hip hop music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels reflects upon the negative messages in hip hop music

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about parental advisory labels

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about the commercialization of hip hop music

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers the night that Tupac was killed

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about Run-DMC's original style

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels talks about the labelling of conscious rap

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels remembers President Barack Obama's election







Darryl "DMC" McDaniels recalls listening to early hip hop music
Darryl "DMC" talks about Run-DMC's contribution to hip hop music
What I was gonna say was when me and my brother [McDaniels' adoptive brother, Alford McDaniels] we got our turntables, my brother would leave and go, I would go in the basement. Before I heard 'Superrappin',' I heard a cassette tape of a live performance of Grandmaster Flash so I knew Flash was a deejay but I was still too little to put it together. Then when I heard the Furious Five record, I knew, I started paying attention. The 'Rapper's Delight' guys [Sugarhill Gang] is rapping over this music telling their stories then I heard the way the Furious Five did it I just started writing rhymes so I could have rhymes for a deejay, wasn't to be that and that was '78 [1978] that was eighth grade [at St. Pascal Baylon School, Queens, New York]. I was the class of '82 [1982] so '79 [1979], '80 [1980], '81 [1981], '82 [1982]. And '79 [1979] was my freshman year at Rice High School [New York, New York] so what I'm trying to say is we had these records out, we had these rap records--these, these, it wasn't even hip hop. See I'm--hip hop before it was labeled. We had records like 'Rapper's Delight' and 'Superrappin'' but it wasn't rap songs 'cause it was deejays and emcees so we had these records out where we were using a lot of disco records 'cause disco records always had the great beat the deejay could keep going but when I got to Rice High School in Harlem [New York, New York] which was right over from the Bronx [New York] but see I didn't know all this, when I got to Rice High School in ninth grade, I heard a form of this rapping emcee stuff that I didn't know exist. What I mean is when I got to Rice High School, I started hearing one of the guys who wrote 'Rapper's Delight' and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five before they was allowed to even go record in recording studios. I heard what they were doing at their block parties and their park parties and what I was gonna say was there was a hip hop that was already in the club. That's why a lot of the records, a lot of the rappers wanted to sound like your favorite jock. "I'm the disco deejay rapping man you know I say clap your hands and stomp your feet," those were older dudes. Those dudes were basically twenty-one and older. Maybe nineteen and older and they could get in a club they could (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Donnie Simpson style voice--$$Yes.$$Imhotep Gary Byrd.$$Gary Byrd yes. Exactly. Gary Byrd and what was the guy Hank Strand [sic. Hank Spann] and what the guy on WBLS [WBLS Radio, New York, New York]? Oh my goodness. So those guys were doing the hip hop deejay thing in that mode. They was already in the club so remember I was too young to get in the club. When I got to Rice High School to make you understand better, I started hearing Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five before they even thought about recording records. I started hearing the Treacherous Three. The Funky Four Plus One. The Plus One was this female girl [Sha Rock] it was four dudes and this female girl that was rapping but the beautiful thing about me hearing hip, hearing these emcees who were rapping before they made records, they were talking about stuff that I could relate as a young dude. They were talking about going to school. They were talking about going to eat at McDonald's. They were talking about going to the movies. They were talking about watching Bugs Bunny. It was the younger demographic doing--emulating the hip hop, there was a younger demographic emulating the radio deejay club style deejay performance thing but they were talking about what they did and that changed my perception of writing. Then I realized I can write about what Darryl [HistoryMaker Darryl "DMC" McDaniels] does. So that kind of--I had no idea where this was going but that started me okay I became Easy D. It was easy for me to write because I'm a good student and my name is Darryl begins with a D so originally my, my, my rap name was Easy D and I used to just write all these rhymes about what Darryl liked to do, going to the store, playing with my G.I. Joes, playing with my army men, listening to the radio, riding my skateboard, riding my bike. What I like to eat. So that all was what I was writing not even thinking of being them just you supposed to do this it's like playing with my G.I. Joe.$$So basically you just you know performed these raps for yourself or did you (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah it was me believing--the same way I used to pretend to be Batman and Superman, it was me pretending to be Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five that's all (simultaneous).$Now here you are, from everything I read Run-DMC is as you said the emergent you know rap group and everybody who follows basically is looking at what Run-DMC is doing and following in a sense.$$(OFF CAMERA INTERRUPTION)$$But anyway Run-DMC is setting the tone for everybody else now right in this--$$No, no I mean what Run-DMC--we didn't--people say I know y'all didn't invent it but y'all started all of this but we did. The people that really started it is Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Fantastic Five, Treacherous Three, Funky Four Plus One, Cold Crush Four [Cold Crush Brothers], Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation [Universal Zulu Nation], Kurtis Blow, Busy.$$Busy Bee.$$Yeah. All of the rappers yeah all of the rappers Kool Herc [DJ Kool Herc] everybody before Run-DMC started this. Run-DMC's role in this was this on the record 'My Adidas' when we did the record 'My Adidas,' I said what Run-DMC did, "We took the beat from the street and put it on TV for the world to see." That was our role in this. We didn't start it. We came--everything Run-DMC does and did was what everybody before us was doing. But our role in this fell right in the timeslot of where were we--our role was to be the ones to present it to the world. But once we did that, you gotta think about it, once we did that, we showed that there could be diversity and uniqueness in this music. It didn't all have to be--in the beginning it was considered black ghetto music, is what hip hop was. And every record was about life in the ghetto, growing up in the ghetto, the struggles of this and that. Me personally I knew in the dirt poor ghetto there was good things going on. That's why I rhymed about family, that's why I rhymed about school, that's why I rhymed about eating chicken and collard greens. Everything did have to be my father's a pimp and pusher and this and that, he shot them and this and that, it didn't have to be about the dark bad things. You could rhyme about the good, but that being said, what Run-DMC did was allow for De La Soul, Public Enemy, Fat Boys [The Fat Boys], Naughty by Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Slick Rick, you know what I'm saying, N.W.A. [Niggaz Wit Attitudes] even we allowed for everybody to bring what it is they wanted to present in a universal way you know what I'm saying. I think that one of the things that we, we can be untouched in is our show was always authentic hip hop. Meaning we never had dab machines, we never had props, we never had dancers. It was Run, Run-DMC just wanted to be the best deejay and emcees that you ever saw. I think we accomplished that but we didn't start it, we just showed that this is the starting point but you could go any place that you want to with it. But over the years, a lot of the business has diluted and polluted our culture. I'm not talking about music making, we created hip hop so that our, the viewer or the listener or the partaker in it could realize they didn't have to only be those circumstances that they come from. Now hip hop says it's cool to be a gangsta, it's cool to be a thug; it's cool to sell drugs. No those are things that people did because they thought they had no other alternatives. You know I got dudes that come up to me and say, "Yo D [HistoryMaker Darryl "DMC" McDaniels] just because you said it, just because you said you went to St. John's University [Queens, New York] and went to school I had dropped out of high school. I didn't think a diploma was important. But because you said it that's its cool to have that I went and got a GED [General Educational Development] just so I can say I got on glasses, I got on a gold chain, I got on Adidas and I got a GED too, that's part of that package." So I think that's what Run-DMC did, we made positive, positivity gangsta. [HistoryMaker] Wyclef Jean once said DMC is the only emcee that can rhyme about chicken and collard greens, St. John's University and Christmas and make it gangsta. That's what we did you know what I'm saying, we didn't brag about selling drugs, we didn't brag about having sex, we didn't brag about how many guns we had. We, we rapped about how many sneakers we had and where those sneakers went. It's different saying I got money and I got more sneakers than you. We talked about the places those sneakers went, which is more deeper than just talking about I got this and I got that. It's where can this all go. So Run-DMC showed where hip hop could go.