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Friday, July 22, 2016

Mark Belkin interviews Darryl McDaniels (DMC) for DC in the 80s

I discovered Run-DMC the same year I discovered comic books. The song was “You Talk Too Much” and it was a song telling some guy to shut up. It blew me away! I had heard songs about love, loss, and dancing, but this was about telling some dude to just shut up. Not the first hip-hop song I loved (that honor belonged to Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock"), but it was certainly my introduction to one of the most important musical groups in history.

DMC and Mark Belkin

DMC is a super hero to me. There was a time in Brooklyn, where the Run-DMC "look"; the hats, the Adidas’, all black clothes, Portland Trailblazers coats, DMC’s gazelles, that was super hero gear to me. That’s what a hero looked like, a hero I could hear and listen to on tape over and over. When they got their video on MTV, when people started acknowledging how amazing hip-hop was, when I was able to find rap tapes in stores - THAT WAS ALL RUN-DMC! They broke walls, they put hip-hop on the map, they were larger than life, and for me, that made DMC a Super Hero.

I got a chance to speak to DMC at the Montreal ComicCon. We didn’t talk as much DC, but we all love comics and that’s the most important thing about this interview. How loving comics influenced him, as it does us. He’s an amazing human being in person. There’s a charisma, and energy, that just can’t be put into words. It’s like trying to take a picture of the moon, you just can’t capture what makes it amazing. If you’re ever lucky enough to speak to him, do it. He will leave a lasting impression.

Also of note, he has a comic book, which you can find at Darryl Makes Comics.

Mark Belkin: "So you were influenced by comics in the 70s, correct?"

DMC: "70s.... yeah, well, yes... 70s. I was strengthened and influenced by comics in the 70s. Which gave me the power to be the most powerful entertainer in the hip-hop universe. Captain America, Spider- Man, the Hulk... Marvel comics was big to me because I was a kid growing up in New York City. DC was cool, but Gotham and Metropolis was fictional. Stan Lee and them had super-heroes running around New York. Spider-Man's from Queens - I'm for Queens. Hell's Kitchen, the Lower East Side - you know what I'm saying - as a kid Marvel Comics showed me the world that I lived in that I was too young to investigate."

Mark: "Then you moved on to making albums - '83 singles, first album in 84 and King of Rock in 85. When you guys put out the King of Rock video and you started to do that mainstream - that cross-over - MTV wasn't playing any hip-hop videos... you were the first ones to give interviews, you were the first ones to be on TV and in the tape shops. Now, to people growing up in New York City, you guys were super- heroes. You guys were our inspiration. We loved hip-hop from Afrika Bambaataa to Funky Four +1, and Treacherous 3,... that was us. Suddenly, it's exploding and you guys were super-heroes. How did it feel being super-heroes to a whole group of people at that time in 1985?"

DMC: "It was nothing - we wasn't conscious of it, because we were trying to be our super-heroes: Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, Cold Crush Brothers, Funky Four + 1 more, Treacherous 3, Double Trouble. Before records - they were our super-heroes. Flash... Grand Master... Oh My God! It was like the super heroes came out of the comic books. Especially when you looked at the break dancers...  you know... the Adidas suits, the Puma suits, they in costume, it was crazy. We wasn't conscious of it because we were so busy having fun just doing the DJ/MC thing. That was our main goal, to be the best DJ. Not even to make the best records - we wanted to be the best DJs and MCs that people would ever come see. And that was the motivation - but that being said - for me personally, all that King of Rock stuff and everything that I was writing were just comic book adventures. "Crash through walls, come through floors, bust through ceilings, and knock down doors" - rappers don't do that , super heroes do. Even on King of Rock, [Reverend] 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 draw" . You see, I was still drawing and reading my comic books then. And comic books... the story telling, the way you defined yourself - because Marvel comics taught me something about self- esteem. Marvel had it so 'adjective and say who you are': The AMAZING... Spider-Man, The INCREDIBLE... Hulk, The MIGHTY... Thor. So when Run put me in a group - see I was just writing rhymes as a writer - Run knew he wanted to be in the business because his brother was managing Kurtis Blow. So Run was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 [years old] seeing that. Me, I only saw it at block parties and I heard it on the cassette tape - this was before Rapper's Delight. So when I found out what they was doing, because I was this kid with this crazy imagination, I was just pretending to be like the Amazing Spider-Man... so I'm a be the DEVASTATING MIND-CONTROLLING DMC. I'm a be the MICROPHONE MASTER DMC. Thor was the son of Odin. I was like "Odin is his father and they're from Asgard. He got a brother named Loki. Their lineage is royal. These guys are deities and gods.", so my father's name is Byford - so Thor being the son of Odin - I became " Son of Byford, brother of Al, Bad as my mamma and Run's my pal, It's McDaniels, not McDonald's, These rhymes are Darryl's." (From “Hit It Run” off of 1986’s classic Raising Hell). See, I was fighting the other name that was out there: "It's McDaniels, not McDonalds, these rhymes are Darryl's, those burgers are Ronald's. I ran down.." So, everything I was getting from comic books as presentation gave me the confidence to get onstage with Run. Run was the guy you saw in Krush Groove. I was just a guy... I was making believe I was Mellie Mel. I never knew I was going to BECOME Mellie Mel. Run's destination was to be BETTER than Mellie Mel. Even when my records was out... when I walked into a room and saw Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow, I was like a kid in a candy store - the same way that I come in here now and see Stan Lee. "Oh My God!" So, for me, it was relative to our existence, the way Wu-Tang is with kung-fu movies. So, you'd know, you're from New York..."

Mark: "well [Wu-Tang's]Method Man was Ghost Rider, the same deal..."

DMC: "Yeah, so it was all comic books, kung fu movies, hip-hop... you know prime time cartoons... Flintstones, the Jetsons and all. So that's all part of all of us."

Mark: “Breaking back like Ken Patera, that 80s wrestling..."

DMC: "Exactly, the 80s wrestling - Hulk Hogan and all of those guys. Brutus the Barber Beefcake, that whole era - it was just TOO MUCH for one kid to handle, but it was always exciting."

Mark: "Right right right... Slick and the Twin Towers... that whole deal."

DMC: "Yeah!"

Mark: "Well DMC, thanks so much. It was an honor to interview you for DC in the 80s, and good luck with the rest of the convention.”

DMC: “Stop by any time and say hello.”

Check out DMC’s new video with Myles Kennedy and John Moyer. In the same vein as Run-DMC/Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" released in 1986, it's a hip-hop/rock mash-up, but instead deals with an important message about current events:

Mark Belkin is a freelance writer and one helluva guy. Look for more articles from Mark in the future! 


  1. DMC is mad passionate. Thanks for sharing this interview man.

  2. Mark Belkin is my favorite writer. I bet his billable hour is pretty high!