As Posted On VIBE.com
Q&A: VIBE Exclusive Doing Art Together Honors Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels On March 24th
VIBE can exclusively reveal that one of the hip-hop pioneers Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels will be honored with Erin S. Gore at the Mandarin Oriental in New York by the Doing Art Together organization’s Annual Gala on March 24th. Doing Art Together is a non-profit arts education organization that offers hands on programs to under-served communities in NYC, which build skills like critical thinking, problem solving and self-expression that can be transferred from the classroom to life in general. The annual event will include a silent auction and photo opportunities. VIBE sat down with the hip-hop legend DMC to talk about the importance of art education, growing up in the foster care system and the anniversary of Bad Boy Records.
VIBE: First of all congratulations on being honored by the Doing Art Together organization. What do you think makes art so important to hip-hop?
Darryl: Thank you, it’s a huge, huge, huge honor and a privilege to be associated with such an incredible event and organization. I’m really big on the arts, if you go to YouTube and see the new video that I just put out. It’s a song called ‘Noise Revolution’ and what brought that song about was the government seems to not have faith in our children and youth anymore. They cancelled all the art programs and cancelled all the after school programs. They don’t take reading, writing, art, drama and music seriously anymore and I feel that if you deprive the children of the arts there’s no growth in education, there’s no growth in them as people.
We have to use the arts, the creativity, the potential that’s in these children to make the world a better place. We cannot rely on our religious leaders and our politicians anymore. A couple of years ago I was at an event and we were just talking about how the arts transform Europe, China and Japan and all these places where people are oppressed and depressed. It’s the arts that bring out change politically and spiritually.
At the age of 35 I found that I was adopted, then found out that I was a foster kid. Yeah it was a crazy, traumatic revelation, you can’t believe what I was going through and I’m a grown man. Everybody knew my whole life, the teachers knew, the bus drivers knew, everybody on my block knew, all my cousins knew, but I didn’t know. To make a long story short, when I looked at my situation I realized that I was given the opportunity to become the person that I am today and it came through those vehicles of education and artistic expression.
I just thought of visiting the group homes and the foster care agencies and the adoption agencies and then I started seeing that there was a big connection between kids in the foster care system and kids in the criminal system. 70 something % of children that go through the foster care system wind up in the prison system. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a million great stories about foster care, but there’s a billion bad stories. So when I was visiting all these places I started realizing that I was connecting with the children through the arts.
Whether it was graffiti, poetry, spoken word, DJing, break dancing or whether it was from kids getting up and doing sketches and plays. So I just started encouraging all these places that I visit [to] allow the kids to rap, allow the kids to DJ, allow the kids to break dance, allow the kids to do the graffiti in a creative atmosphere. Put these kids to work but teach them with the language that they are blessed with, with the talents they are blessed with. So I guess somebody heard about me and said we need to honor D, but I don’t take this as an honor for me, I take it as something that is celebrating the achievements of the young people that we give opportunity to.
As you’ve recently learned you were in the foster care system yourself, can you see yourself getting involved with more charity projects that involve fostered children in the future?
Right now we have the Camp Felix, Camp Felix has been around they tell me nine years now. Originally what me and my partner Sheila Jaffe wanted to do with the camps was, we didn’t want to just have camps we wanted to have facilities in every state in this nation that the kids could go to for education, discipline and recreation. We wanted to put a facility that would cater to the homeless kids, the foster kids, the kids with drug problems, emotional problems, learning problems. So we started with the camp, we want to have a place and an event all year round. We damn near want to have our own universities for young people.
We cannot wait until our children are 18, 19 and 22 years old to start building the foundations for their dreams, we need to talk to these kids at 9, 10, and 11 what do you want to be? It’s almost like if kids at 9 years old keep stealing the cars, don’t you think we should be putting the kid into an automotive learning program so he can learn why the car works, how it works? We teach him how the car works scientifically, chemically, so that when he’s of age he can go open his own chain of auto-body shops or when he’s 18, 19, 20 he can go get a job.
When these kids age out the system the Federal Government of the United States does nothing for them. I know you’ve heard the horror stories in the paper about people that get foster kids just to get the checks, but they don’t take care of the children. Most of the kids that we talked to they’ve got dreams, they want to be scientists, philosophers, artists and sculptors. So we need to start now looking at the artistic, creative talents that are the doorway to these children being prosperous and productive individuals later on in life.
We need to talk to the kids in the language and not just the rap hip-hop language, rap is just a quarter of what all hip-hop is about. Hip-hop used to be a vehicle where a kid can hear a seventeen year old rhyming over a beat about history, economics, current events and religion. A lot of the stuff that KRS-One talked about on a record, in this artistic, musical, poetic use of the English language. He taught me about a lot of black inventors that I never even known about. Hip-hop created journalists such as yourself, directors, novelists and scientists, it ain’t just create rappers, DJs and break dancers.
So it’s an honor for me to see that they’re going to listen to me and we collectively, the artists, got to get with the educators and create the new programs that’s going to transform, not just our neighborhoods, our cities and our states, but it’s going to transform this nation, which in turn will transform the other nations. Music breaks down all the walls that separate us, so why not use the music, dance, fashion, spoken word, style, rap and poetry to educate our children so they can do better.
With the 20th anniversary of Bad Boy Records coming up this year, have you got any favorite memories you’d like to share about Puff or any of their artists over the years?
One of the crazy memories that I have about Bad Boy is [when] we used to do shows with Biggie and it was kind of like what J Cole did for Nas. We had to damn near fight Biggie and Tupac to not headline, they were saying: “Run DMC has to headline because my generation needs to see this. My generation needs to see what inspired me to take to the mic and rip it to pieces. My generation has heard of y’all, but they haven’t seen y’all.” We just had to say “yo Pac and Biggie that’s very flattering dude, but all those people paid their money to see you, we’ll go on right before you.” But it was amazing to see how they were like nobody does it like y’all anymore.
That was the camaraderie, it wasn’t about our age. It was about what we represented and collectively we all represented hip-hop. It was just an honor after being in the game 10-15 years to have the Gods of the moment Pac and Biggie say “yo come on the road with us.” I think that’s what hip-hop really needs right now, you’ve got so many of us, hip-hop can almost do it’s own festivals now. You should be able to go to a hip-hop show and see Melle Mel, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Eminem and Big Daddy Kane. We’re at that point right now, but it’s about us coming together. We own this culture but we’re letting everybody else control it.
For part one of my interview with Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels look below:
Another hip hop pioneer I had the pleasure of interviewing was Mr ‘Just A Friend’ himself, Biz Markie: