Tuesday, June 17, 2008

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Exclusive with 'DMC' McDaniels

This was an interview I was really excited to get because this is DMC!!! DMC of Run-DMC!!! Wow!

He's performing tomorrow night, June 18th, so if you're in Seoul, you should really make the effort to be there.


[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Exclusive with 'DMC' McDaniels

Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, is one third of the legendary rap group Run-DMC. Run-DMC pioneered many firsts for hip-hop artists. The most important first was being the first rap group to make it to superstar status, forever changing how both the world and the music industry viewed hip-hop. Run-DMC sold out international tours, went platinum many times over and changed the face of the genre. DMC will perform at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seoul tomorrow at 11 p.m. I have been given the chance to ask him a few questions to share with Expat Living readers.

Expat Living: After going through both personal and professional challenges and changes, you're in a new phase of your career and working as a solo artist. How are things different for you in this phase of your career?

DMC: At this point in my career I can be as creative as I want. I don't have a position on a team (or) with a group. Now I'm free to (discuss) what Darryl wants to talk about - and musically I'm not limited.

Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, will perform tomorrow night at The Hard Rock Cafe in Itaewon, Seoul. [Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe, Seoul]

Expat Living: In 2006 you released your first solo CD "Checks, Thugs and Rock n' Roll." On that CD you collaborated with Sarah McLachlan on a track named "Just Like Me," which is a remake of Harry Chapin's classic "Cat's in the Cradle." What is the story behind that collaboration?

DMC: I found out at 35 that I was adopted. I didn't know my whole life. Prior to that, I was going through a period of alcohol abuse and depression with thoughts of suicide. Sarah's record "Angel" saved my life. I had a chance to meet her. I thought of making a record to touch lives the way hers touched mine. I reached out to her and when we finished making the song, she revealed to me that she was adopted too. I did not know that when I first heard her music. It was destined for us to hook up for this purpose.

Expat Living: Another question about "Checks, Thugs & Rock n' Roll" - I read some of the reviews. Years after Run-DMC were trail blazers in sampling rock and single-handedly revived Aerosmith's profile by remaking their song "Walk This Way" into a Top 10 hit, people still express a sense of shock over who you choose to work with. You've been in this industry for a long time now. Why do you think people still want to express shock over who you choose to collaborate with? I ask this because I don't see it happening as much with artists in other music genres.

DMC: I don't think of myself as just a rapper. Rap is one what I do, (but) not what I'm limited to. I write, compose and create just like any other musician or lyricist. I can rap over any type of music I please. I go with real musicians and songwriters because I love creating new music.

Expat Living: With Jam Master Jay gone, my condolences, you say that Run-DMC is officially retired. However, you worked with Rev. Run on your last CD. Both you and Run are very busy, I'm sure, but how often are you two in touch?

DMC: I don't speak with Run, only for Run-DMC merchandise deals. Mostly, communication is done through our management. He's a reverend and I'm a rocker, but, technically, we (are) still doing the same things we've always done. We've done what was supposed to be done together.

Expat Living: In a 2005 Rolling Stone article you wrote "(In) the early days of rap, conventional wisdom was that only black people were supposed to like hip-hop and only white people were supposed to like rock." However, we all know that rap is loved worldwide. Last year a Korean team won the international b-boy dance competition. The love of hip-hop culture is pretty clear when you see achievement on that level. That's just one example of how hip-hop music and culture has spread worldwide. As someone who is still at the forefront of hip-hop culture, how does that make you feel?

DMC: Hip-hop is the most powerful force on earth - stronger than politics and religion combined. Those two things divide. True and real hip-hop brings people together. Hip-hop and rock n' roll are brothers - just two expressions of the same feelings.

Expat Living: What do you say to critics who claim that Koreans, or people from other cultures are capturing only the superficial aspects of hip-hop, but that these kids do not understand the deeper issues that flow from hip-hop?

DMC: Tell them (to) shut up. Hip-hop is a universal medium for communication to all races, creeds, colors and nations. It's universal in its flavor and appeal.

Expat Living: This is going to be your first time performing in Seoul. What have you heard from other artists about performing in Seoul?

DMC: It's all good. It (doesn't) matter to me - five or 5,000. I'm going to give them something they've never seen. Not the corny stuff you get on radio or MTV.

Expat Living: Will you have some time to explore Seoul? If so, is there anything you would like to see or experience here?

DMC: I never have time to sightsee, but talking, meeting and seeing the people makes me feel good. I love meeting new people and representing hip-hop culture.

Expat Living: In a Vibe magazine interview you said that Chuck D told you that "the most powerful thing is the power of communication." You have a huge amount of communication power. What do you want to communicate to your Korean fans?

DMC: I want them to know we're all in this world together even though I'm from Hollis, Queens, New York. You can check my music back in the day and my new stuff getting ready to come out and you'll see and feel everything I do, I do for you. Hip-hop is not about me. It's about we or us!

For more information on DMC you can go to his MySpace page, www.myspace.com/dmc, or his website, www.me-dmc.com.

Here is an Adobe Acrobat version of the page:

Read this document on Scribd: KH06172008

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  1. wow, you got to interview DMC!! i still listen to his stuff, never gets old ('it's like that' is more than 20 years old and how relevant it is today...quite shocking). i'm really jealous, girl :D

  2. He's truly a nice man, so it was a pleasure meeting and interviewing him ;)

    There will be more to come on the Look to the Stars website (an interview about his charity work and causes he supports) and on FeetManSeoul (a podcast of my interview with him).

  3. This is SO cool! You rock, really! Good interview, good questions --yup, you're on a roll!

  4. Thanks Kanani! I'd done my research and had a very clear idea of what was important to him, so, from there, I ran with it.

    I hope the roll keeps going because it's the only good reason I have for stuff putting me completely behind in the writing class I'm taking :(

  5. Great interview, ExpatJane. I'm a fan going back 25 years, and I interviewed DMC and Jam Master Jay around 1990 or so.

    I didn't know he and Run no longer speak.

  6. I'm so impressed that the Undercover Black Man came over to my little blog (and links to me)!

    I think I'm going to have to put a little footnote on that. It's not that they don't speak, as much as he's doing his own thing as is Run. I get the feeling that they've just "drifted apart" the way couples do over time. He didn't indicate that there was some drama, but, if there was he's been doing this long enough to not reveal that ;)

    Yeah, I was in touch with Miles Marshall Lewis who interviewed Jam Master Jay before. Had I known you'd interviewed him too, I would have hit you up for some advice. But he was a pleasure to interview.

    In fact, you've reminded me that I've got to get on writing up the second part which will be on the Look to the Stars website.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.