Hip hop legend Run DMC on fame, comics and playing in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
It’s hard to overstate the influence that Darryl McDaniels or ‘DMC’ has had on hip hop since co-founding the legendary rap group Run-DMC with Joseph ‘Rev. Run’ Simmons and the late Jason ‘Jam Master Jay’ Mizell over 30 years ago. They were the first in the genre to get a gold album, a platinum album, go multi-platinum, have videos played on MTV and grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. They’re also the second hip hop group in history to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
But DMC has many strings to his bow and it doesn’t just include music. He’s launched a comic book series, founded charities, written an autobiography and even starred in a documentary series about the search for his biological mother after finding out he was adopted.
And now he can add performing in Bahrain to his repertoire thanks to Jam Up, a local initiative that aims to profile Bahrain artists globally, which kicked off in December when they brought Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal.
We caught up with the rap icon ahead of his arrival to find out more about what makes a legend tick…
Run-DMC has been awarded some serious accolades over the years. What does it feel like to be part of such an influential and iconic hip hop group? Did you ever expect to achieve such fame? I never expected to do as much as I did with my group. My only expectation was to get a record played on the radio so I could say I had a song played on the radio like my idols Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five and Afrika Bambaataa and The Mighty Zulu Nation. I don’t feel as important as people make me to be.
What was your inspiration back when you founded the group? I was inspired at first by Grandmaster Flash. I wanted to be a DJ like him, but I heard MCs called The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three and, finally, hearing The Cold Brothers MCs sealed the deal for me being an MC!
What is your opinion of the hip hop scene of today? Hip hop today is just that – the hip hop of today. I am hip hop eternal! I can’t give an accurate opinion on hip hop without first saying it’s the whole mindset of this irresponsible country to celebrate ignorance, stupidity and negativity. Hip hop is so much more than the… songs out nowadays.
What can your Bahrain fans expect from your performance this month? My performance in Bahrain will be that hip hop presentation that is forever captivating, inspirational, motivational and fun. Bottom line is it has to have great MC and DJ connection with the audience.
What bands and musicians are on your playlist at the moment? My current playlist is hip hop before the whole recording of records. The live performances at venues like Harlem World and The Audubon Ballroom, and rock and roll from classic rock to heavy metal. Why? Because classic doesn’t mean old – it means better than everything that comes after it for eternity. Old school hip hop and classic rock… That’s all there really is!
What musicians have you most enjoyed collaborating with in the past? Right now are the most enjoyable collaborations of my career. I’m creating works of art with [vocalist] Rob Dukes and Generation Kill [crossover thrash band] produced by Bumblefoot. ‘Lot Lizard’ is the first single out now, ‘Fired Up’ is dropping on my birthday in May. In addition to creating with them, I am rocking with Tim Armstrong from Rancid! He’s playing and producing a couple. I have a song with me, Travis Barker [Blink 182 drummer], Mick Mars [Mötley Crüe guitarist], and Sebastian Bach [Skid Row frontman] all together! Me and Rome from Sublime. Bumpy Knuckles [American rapper] is rocking and producing. I have songs with Lordz Of Brooklyn, Chuck D of Public Enemy. Me and my new band and a few more incredible artists… Oh yeah and for the first time in 30 years, DJ Premier is producing The King DMC! So you can see why this is so exciting.
You’ve led an interesting life with the band but also had challenges such as battling depression finding your birth mother. How have these experiences made you who you are today? DMC was just the set up for the things that I was put here to do. Me with Run-DMC is just the appetiser. All the stuff I accomplished is cool but as I person, I am all people. Not better or above them. I am them and since kindergarten, ‘til now, my music will always reflect this.
You do a lot of work with children in foster care and promote adoption. How has it been particularly rewarding for you? Every child born into this world is our responsibility. It’s not about flesh and blood. There shouldn’t be any orphans. Every child deserves the right to become the people they were put here to be. And it’s up to all of us to take care of all our children regardless of their situation. We must provide education, recreation, instruction and discipline to all of our children on this earth. That’s what my organisation The Felix Organisation does. And that’s what we do at MSG Garden Of Dreams foundation.
You’re working on a new album project with the band Generation Kill, which will be produced by Guns N’ Roses guitarist ‘Bumblefoot’. What can we expect from this? Let me explain a little deeper. We are doing an eight-song album covering different themes like substance abuse, politics and more. It’s gonna be hard rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop – if I had to describe it. But all it is, is incredible songs and music. We are dropping a single every month ‘til we get to eight then we will do something physical with a few bonus tracks never heard. Get ready! It’s ill!
You also have a love of comic books and have ventured into that industry too. What is it that you love about comic books and graphic novels so much? I love reading and writing. But more importantly my life is a super hero graphic novel and my love for comics and art reflects that. Literally! To find that out, you’ve gotta read the DMC graphic novel comic series.
If you could have any super power in the world, what would it be? Shhhh! I really have super powers. But I can’t reveal this to anyone. The whole DMC MC thing was just a cover!
The hip hop legend will host a meet and greet with fans at Virgin Megastore on May 6 at 7pm, followed by a mini set and speech on May 7 at Amwaj Isands (tickets cost BD15). Finally, a concert takes place from 9pm at Wrangler on May 8 in Juffair Grand Hotel supported by Bahraini hip hop artists DJ Outlaw and Flipperachi. Tickets for the gig are BD20. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 3965 8618.