In the 1980s, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, performed on stage in black jeans, a black leather jacket, a gold rope chain and Adidas sneakers as one-third of the legendary rap group Run-DMC. “I’m the devastating mic controller DMC, and can’t nobody mess around with me, I’m the king of rap, rock and of rhyme,” he rapped on the 1986 album Raising Hell. Devastating mic controller was a play on his initials D.M.C.
Last Thursday, he was back on the mic. This time, dressed in black jeans and a black Jane’s Addiction T-shirt, he spoke to an audience of more than 80 students at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, which serves grade school to high school students. Using examples from his life and lyrics from his songs, Mr. McDaniels spoke with students about being themselves and the importance of education to achieve their dreams. The afternoon was a success.
“I came out here because I was here last year and I found it very inspirational. I thought it would be cool to come out and watch him give a speech to the younger kids,” said Iyanna, 14. “I found it inspiring when he started telling us about how he grew up in New York. He grew up how we did and he made it [big]. I felt like he was telling us we could make it big just like he did.”
Lealani, 9, said, “He’s a really good guy and he teaches life lessons. He wants to be successful in his life and we have the power to do anything we want and have jobs. We could do anything we want. Just put your mind to it.”
She said the messages she took from the afternoon were to stay true to herself and continue to work hard in school.
Mr. McDaniels talked about his struggles of handling fame, his love of school and comic books, which sometimes but him at odds with his peers, and his learning at age 35 that he was adopted.
“I want the kids here to know regardless of their situation: poverty, crime, death, destruction, homeless, foster care—and I’m a foster kid – your situation doesn’t define who you are,” he told The Press before speaking to students. “You can be whatever you want to be, go wherever you want to go and you can do outstanding, incredible things.”
“It’s very important to start putting ideas of opportunity into the young people now instead of waiting until they’re 18 and 19-years-old,” Mr. McDaniels said. “We need to start educating, inspiring and motivating these kids at an earlier age…because these kids are open for information.”
As a member of Run-DMC, Mr. McDaniels made history. The trio’s sold more than 230 million records worldwide, according to its website, was the first rap group to have a certified Gold album in 1984, had the first rock-rap crossover single “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith in 1986 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
In July 2016, Mr. Daniels released the book “Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir,” which he co-wrote with Darrell Dawsey.
Margaret Della, the Kingsbridge center’s executive director, said Mr. McDaniels spoke with students last year and was such a hit that the Center invited him to return. He had a way of “connecting and inspiring” young people, she added.
As Mr. McDaniels wrapped up his talk, he gave another meaning to his initials D.M.C.
“The ‘D’ is for dedication,” he said and the audience repeated the words after him.
“The ‘M’ is for motivation,” Mr. McDaniels continued and students repeated that after him.
“And, the ‘C’ is for concentration,” he added, which the crowd repeated as well.
“Continue to do that for the rest of your life and everything you dreamt about, everything that you desire, I tell you this day is already yours,” the legendary rapper said.