When Run DMC emerged on the scene during the 1980s, the group had no idea they would become hip-hop pioneers. Fans can now get a glimpse into their rise to superstardom in Peacock‘s Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story, a three-part series that explores the never-been-told story of one of rap’s most influential groups straight from the source.
“In the beginning, it was just to be the best DJs and MCs that you would ever see before in hip-hop,” Darryl “DMC” McDaniels told Blavity’s Shadow and Act. “Then, once we did, hip-hop started making records. The whole goal was just to have your music, your record, played Friday or Saturday night on the local nighttime hip-hop show.”
“When we were younger, achievements in music were Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Beatles. That wasn’t it for us; we were just doing this little hip-hop thing,” he recalled. “Because we had something to say in our neighborhoods…it was for each other, to each other. Once we started recording records and became a little part of the music business, for us, it wasn’t to have Grammys and videos and to be in the music business. You’ve got to understand that it was so huge to just get your record played by DJ Red Alert or Chuck Chill Out or Mr. Magic… that was the goal, and if it happened, you did good. That was it. We had no idea it was gonna be this global phenomenon.”
While music executives and leaders thought hip-hop was a fad, it was cats like Run DMC’s McDaniels, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and the late Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell who proved the genre was here to stay from the very beginning.
Their role in building the genre to the billion-dollar industry is worth studying, and the upcoming Peacock docuseries does just that.
One thing that DMC says has always been important to the group is remaining authentic.
“Hip-hop gives you the power to remain and stay and be who you are… that’s why you do it in the first place. Just because I’m making a record or in the entertainment business or show business, I’m not going to compromise who I am; you don’t have to do that,” DMC shared.
He continued, “For us, it was a rule that nobody follows in hip-hop anymore. Keep it real, but stay true to who you are. Also, we had a bigger responsibility than most people. We were representing a culture that nobody had faith in. But then, we realized with or without the music business, if we never got signed to a deal and if we never made these records, we were still going to do this to the most powerful level of our capabilities. So once you get into this industry and see everybody changing and compromising and doing things that are not true to them, you don’t have the desire to even partake in that, you know?”
DMC stands on the notion that they would have created something of their own regardless of whether they were given a chance by the music industry’s gatekeepers at the time.
“It’s almost like if the music business never accepted us, we would have created a whole new music business,” he said. “They let us in, but they didn’t have to because with or without them, we would have still made it. We would have our own awards and our own network, but once we got in and they saw the potential in us, that’s when the deceivers came in who said they liked what we were doing, but they had ulterior motives. Put it like this: Once they saw it was making money, you can change the person, but I’m not in this for the check; I was in this to be the best MC.”
Not only did the group accomplish what they set out to do, but they did so at the highest level and without taking any significant risks or changing who they were in the process, ultimately leading to full-circle moments throughout their careers like DMC being able to incorporate his love for comics in his music and later on through his company.
“I started a comic book company because I went to a hip-hop meeting with this young man named Riggs Morales, who was the A&R behind the rise of Shady Records with Eminem,” he recounted. “I went to this meeting for music, and when I sat down, he was like, ‘Yo, I’m usually very professional, but I’ll probably never get this opportunity again.’ And in this music meeting, he did what you’re doing to me right now, and he just asked me, ‘D, what were you like when you were a kid?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I used to collect and draw comic books.’ We thought hip-hop and music was our only connection, but when I said that, he said, ‘Me too.'”
From there, DMC realized that the very reason he got into hip-hop had been worth it all along, as he still got to live out his childhood superhero dreams in a different way.
Now, he continues living in that vision as the owner of Darryl Makes Comics, a publishing imprint launched by the hip-hop legend in 2014.
Fans will have the chance to follow the journey of one of hip-hop’s most prominent groups in Peacock’s Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story, streaming now on Peacock.