An American rapper who began his career by DJ-ing in an underage club in Hollis, Darryl McDaniels is famous for being one of the pioneers of hip hop culture and founding members of the legendary hip hop group Run-D.M.C, along with childhood friend Joseph “Run” Simmons and the late DJ Jam-Master Jay. Run-D.M.C had a massive impact on the improvement of hip hop through the 1980s and is credited with breaking hip hop into mainstream music, thanks to such impressive albums as Run-D.M.C (1984), Raising Hell (1986) and Down With the King (1993). The group separated in 2002 after the death of Jam-Master Jay and in 2006, McDaniels released his long-awaited solo album, Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll.
Outside the limelight, 6-foot-1-inch tall McDaniels had received a degree of notoriety of being a heavy drinker. He was known to drink up to eight bottles of 40-ounce malt liquor a day. He was arrested twice for public intoxication and driving while intoxicated. In addition to alcohol, he also became highly addicted on prescription drugs. As a result, he later suffered from spasmodic dysphonia, a vocal disorder with causes spontaneous spasms of the larynx muscles. Thanks to Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel,” the huge fan of the Beatles, especially John Lennon, finally came to a consideration to re-evaluate his life.
As for his love life, McDaniels is the husband of Zuri L. (Alston) McDaniels. The two have one son, Darryl M. McDaniels, Jr. (born 1994).
Childhood and Family:
Darryl Matthews McDaniels was born Darryl Lovelace on May 31, 1964, in Harlem, Manhattan, New York. He was adopted by Byford and Banna McDaniels when he was three months old and grew up in the neighborhood of Hollis in the New York City borough of Queens that he first recognized as his birth place. But, Darryl did not know about the adoption until his mother disclosed it in 1999. The news inspired him to search his biological mother, Berncenia Lovelace, whom he finally met in 2005.
Darryl, who earned such nicknames as Dee and Darryl Mac, was educated at the Catholic schools in New York City and then went to St. John’s University in Queens, New York. In September 28, 1992, he married his girlfriend, Zuri L. (Alston) McDaniels, whom he met a year before while walking in NYC. The two welcomed their first child, son Darryl M. McDaniels, Jr. (DSon), on July 27, 1994, at LaGuardia Hospital in Queens, New York. The family currently lives in New Jersey.
Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll
Darryl McDaniels first found his interest in hip hop music after listening to the recordings of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. As a teenager, he taught himself to DJ in his parents’ home’s basement by using turntables and a mixer given to him by his brother. During this time, he took up “Grandmaster Get High” as his pseudonym.
Along with his childhood friend, Joseph “Run” Simmons, McDaniels started performing at a juvenile club in his local and later after the two brought in a third member, Jam Master Jay, who was the best DJ in their hometown, McDaniels persuaded by Run to rap rather than DJ. Progressively, McDaniels developed a huge love for rapping and adopted the nickname of “Easy D.” In 1981, he changed the name to “DMcD” and later to the shorter “DMC.” D.M.C. alternately stood for his nickname since childhood, “Darryl Mac,” or “Devastating Mic Controller.”
Under the name Run-D.M.C., the trio penned a recording deal with Profile Records in 1983 and released their first single, “It’s Like That,” that same year. This was followed by their self-titled debut album in 1984. Run-D.M.C. was a hit. It became the first rap album to receive a gold certification and the first to go to # 1 on the R&B charts. Additionally, it was the first hip hop album to break into the top ten charts for pop albums.
The band gained even more attention with the released of their third album, Raising Hell, in 1986, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard album charts. The record became the highest-selling rap album in history, selling over 3 million copies, thanks to such hits as “Walk This Way,” a rap-rock collaboration performed with Aerosmith members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Following a string of jaded commercial success that included Tougher Than Leather (1988) and Back From Hell (1990), Run-D.M.C returned to the mainstream success with their 1993’s album Down With the King, which became the Top 10 on the Billboard album chart. Shortly thereafter, the group’s three members began pursuing separate careers though they went on to perform and tour together.
In 1997, McDaniels started to fall into a deep depression that caused by the scrupulous routine of touring and performing. He then began to rely heavily on prescription drugs and alcohol. While on tour, McDaniels perceived his voice was giving out. He was later diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which causes involuntary spasms of the vocal cords. He believes this was caused by the forceful way in which he performs his lyrics compounded with the years of heavy drinking. In the meantime, the rapper started to have creative differences with his bandmates that caused McDaniels to sit out most of the recording of Crown Royal (2001), where he appeared on only three songs.
Inspired by Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel” that he heard on the radio, McDaniels decided to reassess his life and career. With a new attitude on life, he then wrote his autobiography, King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility and My Life with Run-DMC, which was released in early 2001. A year later, Run-D.M.C officially retired from performing following the murder of Jam Master Jay.
In February 2006, McDaniels appeared on the documentary film DMC: My Adoption Journey, premiered by VH1 network. The program ends with McDaniels reuniting with his birth mother, whom he finally discovered in 2005. A month later, he launched a career as a soloist by releasing his debut album, Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll. The lead single, “Just Like Me,” using samples and the chorus from Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” with the chorus sung by McDaniels’ savior, Sarah McLachlan.