He played a vital role in popularising hip- hop culture and rap music in the 1980s. But Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, one- third of New York hip-hop pioneers Run DMC, is disappointed with how the music genre has evolved today.
"A lot of hip-hop today is strip club music, it's gangster music," the 48-year-old, who co-founded Run DMC in 1981, tells Life! in a telephone interview from New Jersey. "I'm not a gangster, I don't want to hear about shooting and killing people and strip clubs, I don't even go to strip clubs. I think hip-hop nowadays is disco. It's glitter balls, sparkles, fancy cars, champagne, cool parties and mansions. And what did they say about disco? Disco sucks."
While Run DMC called it quits in 2002 after the group's DJ Jam-Master Jay was killed in a yet-to-be-solved homicide case, McDaniels has kept himself busy with his solo music career. The third member, Joseph "Run" Simmons, is a practising minister who is still active in music.
McDaniels' latest high-profile project is an appearance in The '80s: The Decade That Made Us, a television documentary series by National Geographic Channel about the 1980s and its impact on succeeding decades. "Everything that was happening in the 1980s was groundbreaking, it was revolutionary, it was inspirational," he says. "Put it like this, the 1980s was the decade full of flavour that everyone still wanted to taste. Great things that happened in the 1980s weren't just fads, they had an impact and effect on all the universe."
Inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, Run DMC were the first hip-hop group to sell one million copies of their album, 1985's King Of Rock. Their third album, Raising Hell (1986), sold three million copies, proving that a hip-hop record could reach multi-platinum sales.
They were also credited with breaking down barriers between hip-hop and rock fans in 1986 with their groundbreaking collaboration with veteran hard rock band Aerosmith on the latter's song, Walk This Way.
"Think about the video for Walk This Way. Steven Tyler takes the mic stand and he busts through a hole in the wall. That was symbolic of knocking down all the walls of division," says the rapper, who is married with a 19-year-old son. "We brought two generations together. We brought hip-hop and rock 'n' roll together, we brought black people and white people together and we changed the world."
Besides being busy with his second solo album, which he expects to release later this year, he is also working on an updated version of his autobiography, King Of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, And My Life With Run-DMC, which was published in 2001.
He said the new book will contain more details on the drama he went through when he found out at age 35 that he was adopted. His search for his birth mother was documented in DMC: My Adoption Journey, a television series by music channel VH1 in 2006.
McDaniels, who has since been reunited with his birth mother, says he has come to terms with his adoption and believes it was fate. "If what happened to me didn't happen, forget about me being in Run DMC, me and you wouldn't be talking right now. There would be no Walk This Way to talk about in the 1980s. My story is so deep, it's not just about me, I represent purpose and destiny."
And while he and Simmons have reunited for several one- off shows, he shoots down talk of Run DMC making a full comeback, saying the group would not be the same without Jam-Master Jay. "There's no way you are going to get me and Run trying to beat those three guys from the 1980s. Nobody in the world would ever beat those three guys."