For some, the 1980s were comprised of neon colors, bubble gum pop and “Xanadu.” That’s the most popular vein of nostalgia mined for “’80s nights” at bars around the country, with cheap drink specials and “Like a Virgin” playing on loop. It’s a lens created from MTV and mainstream Hollywood films, but one that only encompasses a little of what the decade represented, because in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, music was being reinvented. And there are few figures as central to that reinvention, to the birth of hip-hop, as Darryl McDaniels — or DMC, as he’s known worldwide.
As one-third of Run DMC, McDaniels was party to a tremendous number of firsts: First rap group to get a gold record, first rap group to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone and even the first rap group to “cross over” to the mainstream, bringing hip-hop and rock together on “Walk This Way.”
amNewYork caught up with DMC in advance of his solo performance at the upcoming “I Want My ’80s” concert.
You’ve hosted your own TV show, written an autobiography and are now creating comic books. Could you have ever imagined that hip-hop would open all these doors?
Basically, when Steven Tyler took that microphone stand and knocked down that wall in the “Walk This Way” video, people out there told me “yo D — that really happened in the universe.” Hip-hop knocked down walls for us of separation and communication. Not just white people and black people, not just hip-hop and rock. It just brought people together. And it was so good and positive, hip-hop culture became one of the most powerful forces on earth.
You were a part of two of the fondest-remembered concert tours in rap history, in Fresh Fest ’84 and ’85, which are now 31 and 30 years old …
That’s crazy — what?!
What made those tours stand out?
You’re supposed to see everybody. The concerts now in hip-hop should be Jay Z, Kanye [West], Kendrick [Lamar] and all these dudes all together, and don’t worry about who does better than you! There were nights on that tour where the Fat Boys brought the house down — and we were happy for them! The good thing about Fresh Fest was that you got the total representation of the genre at the time. There was no division. We were all doing something significant for that audience, so let’s give it to them together. And the guys nowadays, they make so much money from outside of music anyway that they should give the fans [a modern Fresh Fest].
Jam Master Jay would have turned 50 in 2015. If DJs could take just one thing from his legacy, what should it be?
Technology is cool, and Serato and downloading are cool, but you’re not a real DJ unless you learn to throw a two-hour concert using vinyl.
If you go: Darryl “DMC” McDaniels performs at the I Want My ’80s Concert tomorrowFriday at 8 p.m. at The Theatre at MSG, 4 Penn Plaza, $50-$130.
Here are the other ’80s icons at the concert:
Lou Gramm of Foreigner
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister
A Flock of Seagulls
Hosted by original MTV VJ Martha Quinn