Run-DMC hip-hop icon talks history at MU

Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 11:05 p.m. CST; updated 2:36 p.m. CST, Friday, March 6, 2009
CORRECTED CAPTION: Darryl "DMC" McDaniels speaks about hip-hop — past and present — on Thursday night at Jesse Hall. He said he thinks generation differences are a big influence on the changes taking place in the hip-hop world. An earlier caption misspelled his name.

*CORRECTION: Darryl McDaniels spoke at MU on March 5. An earlier version of this article misspelled his name.

COLUMBIA — Since the first time he heard a beat on a tape player during recess in the seventh grade, Darryl* "DMC" McDaniels has been a hip-hop addict. A member of the breakthrough former hip-hop group Run-DMC, McDaniels is an authority on the genre.

"Since Run-DMC was a group, every time something happened in hip-hop, people would call us and ask us what we think," McDaniels said.

McDaniels is capitalizing on his revered status. The hip-hop pioneer travels throughout the country to speak about the history that he lived through and helped create. He spoke to a small crowd of mostly students Thursday night at MU's Jesse Hall.


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In his lecture, McDaniels explained hip-hop in a fresh way, defining the art form as the ultimate expression and presentation of the human experience. By citing specific examples of the evolution of hip-hop, he showed how the genre has always built on itself.

"What I am trying to achieve is to put the old school and the present school together. It's not a generation gap; it's an information gap," McDaniels said.

McDaniels said that the world has forgotten that hip-hop is a good thing and a positive motivator because now it is represented in the wrong way. McDaniels pointed out that many of the big players in hip-hop today do not rhyme about topics that are relatable — the exact opposite of what Run-DMC started out doing.

"Run-DMC was cool because we were talking about things that were normal, like our sneakers. People like stuff that's real," McDaniels said.
McDaniels was engaged with the audience, speaking as if he were having a conversation with the young crowd rather than delivering a lecture. He was an energetic speaker, often reciting lines from different rap songs without hesitation to emphasize his points.

"He is one of the icons of hip-hop," audience member and MU student Blake Harris said. "I want to get a deep understanding (of hip-hop) from someone who was a part of it from the beginning."

The rapper talked about the positive things that hip-hop is capable of. He explained that rappers have always rhymed about their lives and the rough backgrounds some came from. But today's hip-hop tends to romanticize these scenarios, and major players in the industry lack originality, McDaniels said.

"I want to hear a rapper make a dope record about going into 7-Eleven. Write about your hoopty. Do you know how many people can relate to that? Kids nowadays just rap about what they see other people do," he said.

Harris agreed with McDaniels' assessment of the current trends. "Hip-hop has changed from being the voice of the streets to what sells," he said.

McDaniels is proof that relatable music is timeless. Later this year, Run-DMC will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"People didn't think we would last. People just thought (hip-hop) was a fad," McDaniels said.

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Harumendhah Helmy March 6, 2009 | 12:59 p.m.

His first name is Darryl, with a double r.

(Report Comment)
Thomas Dillingham March 10, 2009 | 11:06 p.m.

Leslie Horn's article about Darryl McDaniel claims that he "defines the art form [hip hop] as the ultimate expression of the human experience." I wonder if we could have his actual words. This claim, as paraphrased, is so preposterous that I cannot believe he actually said it. Hip Hop is an important and popular art form, certainly, but to claim it is the 'ultimate expression' of anything is just nonsense. Tom Dillingham

(Report Comment)
Ben Hansen March 11, 2009 | 10:59 a.m.


I was there and believe or not, Leslie paraphrased it correctly. I think it's more understandable if you consider the fact that this man fell in love with hip-hop while in the seventh grade and has based practically his whole life on it.

He also said that hip-hop is more powerful than politics and religion because it brings people together. Whether or not you agree with him isn't necessarily as important as understanding that people pay attention to hip-hop, its lyrics, rolemodels, fashion, etc. So current artists should be mindful of what they put out there for their audiences.

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