Turning 34 today is Darryl McDaniels, the D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., one of
the most influential hip-hop groups in the genre's history. D.M.C. was
born in New York City and raised in Hollis, a middle-class section of
Queens, N.Y. D.M.C.'s boyhood friend Joseph Simmons, "Run," was the
brother of Russell Simmons, who created the pioneering rap record label Def
Jam with producer Rick Rubin. Russell encouraged his brother and D.M.C.
to form a rap act. After they graduated from high school in 1982,
D.M.C. and Joseph Simmons persuaded their friend Jason Mizell
to join the group. Mizell, the turntablist, took the name Jam Master
Jay and Run-D.M.C. were born.
The group's first single,
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Run_D.M.C./Its_Like_That.ram">"It's Like That"
That"(RealAudio excerpt) b/w "Sucker M.C.'s," was a top-20
R&B hit and established Run-D.M.C.'s trademark sound -- a
harder rap with spare beats, literate lyrics and Run and D.M.C.'s
overlapping vocals set to a drum machine and turntable scratch.
Incredibly, the group created the sound of today's rap with its first
release. After a few more hit singles, Run-D.M.C. released their
eponymous first album (produced by Rubin) in 1984, proving that they
were the first rap group that was more than a singles act.
Their second album, 1985's King of Rock, established Run-D.M.C. as
talented and popular rap act in the world and began a rash of imitation
groups. "Can You Rock It Like This" added guitar and
synthesizer to the group's sound. More importantly, the album had the
trio rapping over heavy metal, breaking the barrier between hip-hop and
After starring in the rap film "Krush Groove" with Kurtis
Blow and the Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C. released 1986's Raising
Hell, which broke their combination of rap and rock into the
mainstream. The album was a #1 R&B hit (the first for a rap act),
thanks chiefly to "Walk This Way," the trio's cover of and collaboration
with hard-rock giants Aerosmith.
The track was a groundbreaker -- the
first to feature rock and rap artists together -- and was a huge pop hit
as well. "Walk This Way" also propelled Raising Hell into the
top region of the Billboard 200 albums chart and helped it reach
status (another first for a rap act). The Aerosmith collaboration and the
follow-up singles, "You Be Illin' " and "It's Tricky," also established
Run-D.M.C. as the first rap group to be MTV favorites.
In 1988, Tougher Than Leather came with a movie of the same name -- a
parody of '70s blaxploitation films -- starring the trio. But at the time
of its release, hip-hop fans were turning to hard-core rap with social
messages -- like that of Public Enemy -- and gangsta rap. After another
even less successful album, Run-D.M.C. also had personal obstacles to
overcome, as D.M.C. became an alcoholic and Simmons was accused of
Their troubles resulted in D.M.C. and Simmons becoming
born-again Christians, an influence documented on 1993's Down With The
King. The album featured the trio collaborating with such hot acts
as Public Enemy, KRS-One and A Tribe Called Quest. It went gold and
spawned the top-10 R&B title song. Simmons became a minister at Zoe
Ministries Church in Manhattan, N.Y.
A new album has yet to surface from the
trio, but Run-D.M.C. retain a large, devoted following and will go down
in music history as rap music's greatest innovators. They are
reportedly working again with producer Rubin on new tracks.
Other birthdays: Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), 60; Augie Meyers
(Texas Tornados), 58; Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople/Bad Company), 54; Dan
(American Music Club), 39; Wendy Smith (Prefab Sprout), 35 ... John
Bonham (Led Zeppelin), 1948-1980.