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Run-D.M.C.'s Darryl McDaniels Returns to Queens Hoping To Inspire Kids

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | December 24, 2015 11:22am | Updated on December 27, 2015 4:43pm
 DJ and TV personality Ralph McDaniels talks to Darryl McDaniels at the Queens Library.
DJ and TV personality Ralph McDaniels talks to Darryl McDaniels at the Queens Library.
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DNAinfo.com/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — Rapper Darryl McDaniels, 51, grew up in Hollis, reading comic books and writing rhymes.

The hip-hop pioneer better known as D.M.C., who sold millions of records worldwide as a member of Run-D.M.C., returned to his old neighborhoods Tuesday to meet with fans and local kids at the Queens Library, hoping to inspire them to discover their own talents. 

“I’m not greater than you, I’m not better than you, I’m not smarter than you, I’m not even more talented than you,” he said during the event in Jamaica Tuesday, which was also simultaneously live-streamed to his "home" library in South Hollis.

The event was hosted by DJ and TV personality Ralph McDaniels, who recently joined the library as its first ever hip-hop coordinator and works to attract new users by coordinating hip-hop related programs. The two men are not related.

Growing up as an adopted child, D.M.C. had to face many obstacles in his life, but what helped him, he said, was that he seized every opportunity to explore his creativity and learn new things.

“What I am to you is a living breathing proof of what will happen if you take advantage of every little corny artistic creative educational opportunity given to you. That’s what I represent.”

Everything may lead to a new opportunity, McDaniels said.

“If they tell you come play the violin, tap dance, go to the opera ... there might be somebody there that will see something in you that can be utilized to transform your existence," he said.

McDaniels said that sort of coincidence started his career, when his neighborhood friend Joseph Simmons — another Run-D.M.C. member who later became better known by the stage name Rev. Run — came to his house when they were in ninth grade.

They were supposed to play basketball but instead Simmons grabbed a notebook with McDaniels' rhymes and was very impressed with what he read.

“He said: when Russell and me make a record I’m gonna put you in my group,” McDaniels quoted Simmons, who was referring to his brother, a hip hop mogul and co-founder of the music label Def Jam.

Four years later Simmons did call McDaniels and said, "Grab your rhyme books. We’re going to the studio." That night, they recorded "It's Like That" and "Sucker MCs.”

McDaniels, who had just enrolled to study business administration at St. John's University, didn’t even tell his parents about the group's first record until the band was offered a series of shows.

When he finally told them, his father had two questions. “What in the hell is hip-hop and what in the world is Run-D.M.C.?”

Initially, his parents did not allow him to participate in the shows, until he said he would pay for his college tuition with the money he was going to earn from the concerts.

He took a leave of absence planning to go back after the shows, but his career took off and he never had a chance to do so, he said.

McDaniels, who recently started his new venture as an author and the publisher of the independent comic book company, Darryl Makes Comics, also encouraged kids to read books.

“Technology is beautiful and it’s needed but something happens to the individual when you turn off all the exterior noise and pick up a book and begin to read,” he said.

“If we can get kids to pick up books about whatever it is that they like, it will make them discover something about themselves that they don’t know.”

He also tried to motivate them to find their identity and follow their dreams. 

“Be what you want, but be something,” he said. “Inside of all of us individuals is the next great novelist, the next great poet, in this room ... there is the next great Maya Angelou.”

Saniya Cato, 9, who came to the event with her grandmother Janice Sherwood, a longtime fan of Run-D.M.C. and a coordinator at the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Southeast Queens, said McDaniels' words resonated with her.

“I want to be the next Beyoncé so he really inspired me,” she said.