Ok, Run DMC where hip hop’s first real superstars. They had gold and platinum selling albums, played sold out arenas all over the world and had that infamous sponsorship deal with Adidas that ushered in the era of hip hop being used to promote pretty much anything that could be marketed.
Through it all, DMC (Darryl McDaniels) says that he felt a strange disconnection from their success and was never truly happy. He started looking for possible answers and discovered just a few years ago that he was adopted. This set him on a path to finding his real parents but around this time, Run DMC’s legendary DJ Jam Master Jay was murdered in a recording studio, Run DMC effectively split up, DMC’s father died, he descended into alcoholism and says he contemplated suicide.
The fact that he’s onstage here tonight looking fit and strong is a testament to his strength of will. Wearing a black Ramones t-shirt, black jeans and black shoes, he bounds onto the stage and introduces his DJ, Charlie Chan Soprano. They launch straight into the 1984 classic “Rock Box”, and already I’m thinking “I never thought I’d hear this song performed live again”. A constant thought throughout the whole set. It goes down a storm but he’s already got the crowd firmly on his side and can’t really go wrong. After the song, DMC says he’s been in the music business for 25 years but that he started making music 30 years ago. He also says that he feels justified in still being around as people like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are basically also still around doing what they’ve always done.
He then goes into an acappella of “King of Rock” before Charlie Chan let’s loose with the song’s monster riff. Chan also provides backing vocals and there’s good interaction between him and DMC. He’s also lightning quick on the turntables, showing great skills throughout the set. They tear through a hyper version of “Mary Mary” and it’s obvious DMC is loving it, posing for pictures for people’s mobile phones while never missing a beat.
He released a solo album “Checks, Thugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 2006 so it’s time for some of his solo material. He starts with “Black Betty” and of course it loops up the 1977 song by Ram Jam and suits DMC’s voice perfectly. He then does his verses from “Peter Piper” and again Charlie Chan showcases his DJ skills with some tight cutting and scratching. There’s a song I haven’t heard before that loops up Nirvana’s “Come as you are”. It’s a good head nodder that goes straight into “It’s like that” and this one gets the crowd chanting along. A short rhyme over Kraftwerk’s “Computer World” goes straight into “It’s tricky” and this mix of new stuff and Run DMC classics is a perfect balance.
He tells us that the song that pulled him through his darker days was “Angel” by folk singer Sarah McClachlan. He says that he listened to this song every day for a year and eventually met Sarah and said he wanted to work with her. The resulting song “Just like me” is a perfect mix of his autobiographical rhymes about his recent problems and her sung chorus of the well known Harry Chapin song “Cat’s In The Cradle”. The fact that Sarah McLachlan was also adopted makes it a poignant song as well. Following this, there’s an ode to hip hop over Roger Troutman’s “More bounce to the ounce” which is followed by his verse on “Sucker MC’s” and it’s a perfect way to end the set.
The encore had to be “Walk this way”, and it brings a rousing cheer from a crowd who have been well entertained all night. DMC has been through a lot and come out the other side. He’s still around rocking stages and, as he said last night, he doesn’t have anything to prove and doesn’t need the money he just loves doing it. Respect.
DMC’s song “Just like me” featuring Sarah McLachlan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU19xA8h3FQ