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.
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.