Darryl “D.M.C” McDaniels

By: Tor Aarestad
May 31, 2013


DARRYL “D.M.C” McDANIELS (born 1964) was born “son of Byford, brother of Al, bad as [his] mamma and Run’s [his] pal; it’s McDaniels not McDonalds: the rhymes are Darryl’s, the burgers are Ronald’s.” Like many suburban kids of the 1980s, Run-D.M.C. was my first extended exposure to rap music. “Walk this Way”, Run-D.M.C.’s collaborative cover of Aerosmith’s classic rock track, exploded all over television during those unmissable early MTV years. I wore out my cassette of Raising Hell, dumbfounded by Jam Master Jay’s sonic creations and the rhyming of Run and D, and by their personas. The black leather pants and blazers, the trim fedoras, the unlaced Adidas clamshells and heavy gold chains; they seemed a bizarro version of the man in the grey flannel suit. And this impression seemed not far off after listening to the rhymes: “Perfection to D, is quite essential / He has to live up to his potential.” D.M.C.’s lyrical declamations were consistent and hortatory — unwavering effort, focus and self-betterment are his keys to success.

I’m D.M.C. in the place to be
I go to St. John’s University
And since kindergarten I acquired the knowledge
And after 12th grade I went straight to college

While Run was voluble, rhymes flowing easily from this life of the party, D.M.C. was always working hard and hung back. You know when people describe someone as really quiet, but you better watch out when he gets mad? D.M.C was that guy, and he seemed mad ALL THE TIME. The glasses and the dramatically crossed arms cemented this impression. Each time he finished he would cross his arms high and tight and stare: “It’s like that, y’all!” A modern day prophet of Weber’s Protestant work ethic, D.M.C. laid out the mess many Americans found themselves in (“Hard Times”) and then the way out: hard work.


HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc | Gil Scott-Heron | Slick Rick | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels | Afrika Bambaataa | Biz Markie | U-God | Slug | Adam Yauch | Ghostface Killah | DJ Run | Flavor Flav | Scott La Rock | GZA | Schoolly D | Aesop Rock | Terminator X | Notorious B.I.G. | Melle Mel | Doug E. Fresh | Kool Keith | Rick Rubin | Rakim | Ol’ Dirty Bastard | Madlib | Talib Kweli | Danger Mouse | Kool Moe Dee | Chuck D | Dizzee Rascal | RZA | Cee-Lo Green | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Gilbert Shelton, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John Bonham, Johnny Paycheck.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Original Generation X (1954–1963) and Reconstructionist (1964–1973) Generation.