How Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels Brought Rock to Rap and Hip-Hop to MTV | Video

“We did it with ‘Rock Box’ and it changed the world,” says the music legend

In “Kings From Queens,” the three-part docuseries that debuted Thursday on Peacock, Run-D.M.C. cofounder Darryl McDaniels breaks down how he and Joseph “Run” Simmons and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell brought rock to hip-hip in the ’80s, revolutionizing the industry in the process.

In a video interview with TheWrap, McDaniels, aka DMC, talked about how rapping over rock beats, instead of the usual jazz and funk samples, changed the game and landed them the first hip-hop video on MTV.

“When we came to hip-hop, it was like everybody’s using jazz and R&B and James Brown because he always had a funky drummer beat for you. Right? And funk,” McDaniels said.

Back in the day, DMC said the philosophy behind rapping was “keep it real and don’t copy anybody else,” explaining he didn’t want to rap over the same beats that already established rappers Melle Mel, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc or Grandmaster Flash used.

“Me being a kid that was influenced by ’70s rock radio here in New York City, I just came along saying, ‘You know what? I love “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin,’ but nobody’s making rock raps.”

For 1984’s “Rock Box,” the follow-up to “It’s Like That,” McDaniels was inspired by Billy Squier’s 1980 song “The Big Beat.” They didn’t sample the song itself, but created a similar beat on their own.

“It wasn’t like a genius thing, like, ‘We’re going to get together and do a crossover of rock rap.’ No, we did it with ‘Rock Box,’ and it changed the world. They got us on MTV, put hip-hop in everybody’s living room,” he added.

“That was the thing that led to ‘Walk This Way,’” he continued, referring to the duo’s 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith that really blasted them into the mainstream.

DMC still believes in keeping the music authentic, even if today’s rappers don’t. “This documentary is going to let a lot of people know who’ve been saying they [are] hip-hop, they ain’t really hip-hop. A lot of hip-hop now, it’s just individuals rapping over recorded music for the purpose of success in the music industry. And if you think I’m lying, they say [it] themselves, ‘I don’t care about the culture, I’m just in it to get money.’”

“If there’s no DJ actually DJing while the guy is rapping, whether it’s one person or five people, or a bunch of people like the Wu Tang Clan, that ain’t hip-hop,” he said with a grin.

“Kings From Queens” is now streaming on Peacock.


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