The fact that a Shorewood resident named Eric "Shake" James and Darryl McDaniels from the legendary hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. opened a shoe boutique called Clicks, 1916 E. Capitol Dr., is a compelling story. The fact that McDaniels was at Clicks today, casually meeting fans, signing autographs and telling stories, is almost unbelievable.
But it happened. And the dozens of fans who showed up to the shop were treated to a rare, intimate meet-and-greet with one of the industry trailblazers of hip hop and a master of collaboration.
McDaniels, who is a founding member of Run-D.M.C., has also made music with some of the top artists in multiple genres. He started his own publishing company called Darryl Makes Comics and published a 90-page graphic novel called "DMC." He also gives large amounts of time and money to many not-for-profit organizations, most of which offer support to children.
This afternoon, McDaniels showed up at Clicks about half an hour before his 1:30 p.m. public engagement to talk with OnMilwaukee.com. He was fresh, funny and engaging and his captivating storytelling reminded those present that he is both a gifted writer and performer.
OnMilwaukee.com: So, post "Straight Outta Compton," when’s the Run-D.M.C. moving coming out?
Darryl McDaniels: That’s a good question. We've discussed that, but I’m working toward putting my story on Broadway. It’s not the Run-D.M.C. story, it's my personal story. I found out I was adopted at age 35. I want to tell the story about the little girl that gave up the baby and the girl that took the baby and how those decisions are why Run-D.M.C. was able to happen. If it wasn’t for my birthmom, Run-D.M.C. never would have happened.
The show won’t have just Run-D.M.C. music in it either. When I was a kid, I wasn’t into the Jackson 5, I was into rock and folk rock. Harry Chapin, John Fogerty, Dylan – they were telling stories. Stories about women’s rights, about civil rights. That’s what I do. That’s why I’m known as The King Of Rock and not The King Of Hip Hop. Who wants to be known as The King Of Hip Hop anyway? Too many Twitter beefs.
OMC: What inspired you to write a comic book?
DM: Before hip hop changed my life, I was a comic book nerd. When I was a kid, I was always a straight-A student. When I was in kindergarten, my brother, who was three years older, brought home comic books. I thought the colors were so powerful and I started drawing the characters.
At first, Superman was just a stick figure with an S on it, but by the time I was in second grade, I was able to draw them pretty well. If you listen to "King of Rock" from 1985 you'll hear me say "I’m DMC and I can draw!"
Another good thing about comic books is that when I was in school, I’d learn about the planets. And then I’d go home, and the Silver Surfer would actually take me to the planets. The imagination is a very positive thing and I can honestly say comics made my scholastic abilities superior.
I was hesitant to make the graphic novel, though. I don’t want to be another person that, because I had a hit record, I’m going to do another thing. Stay in your lane! But I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it with integrity.
OMC: How and when did you segue from comics to music?
DM: At first, I wanted to be a DJ. Me and my brother had a big collection of comic books, but we didn’t sell weed so we didn’t have no money. So my brother said, "We gonna get ours legally." We did a big comic book sale and got two turntables and a mixer.
I was trying to be Grandmaster Flash. I was writing a lot of rhymes about everything I was learning at school. Whatever I learned anywhere, I would go home and write a rhyme about it. Even at the dentist office, I would grab the pamphlets off the walls, read them, and write rhymes.
But hip hop was make-believe to me. It was as make-believe as superheroes. It was just another character I was pretending to be. When I was a little boy, I wore a blanket for a cape; when I got older, I was pretending to be Flash.
But then I started playing basketball after school with Joseph Simmons. We played at school, but there was only one rim, and some guy who was 8 feet tall, or so it seemed that way because I was a kid, broke it, and so my mother and father put up a rim in our backyard and we all started playing there.
My parents’ had a rule, though. I could not invite company into the house when they were not home from work yet, but one day, just Joseph showed up and he was thirsty and it was just him and my mother wasn’t going to be home for an hour, so I let him into the house to get some water. He saw the turntables and he said, "You do that?" And I said, "No. It’s my brother’s."
Eventually, we started playing basketball and also DJing in my basement a little bit. One day he saw all my rhymes and he asked me if I wrote all of them. I told him yes and he told me that when his brother lets him make a record someday, I was gonna be in his group.
I didn’t know what that meant. I was still pretending to be a DJ, like I had pretended to be a superhero. But he called me one day and said, "I can make the record now. Grab your rhyme books." And the rest is history.
OMC: So when will you release more music?
DM: I have two albums coming out and I’m working with some of the best in the business. The first single will be out in two months. The first record is called "Flames" and it talks about all the police shootings and racial tensions. It’s produced by John Moyer from Disturbed, and it’s DMC, Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge / lead singer of Slash’s current band) and Tom Morello.
Another album that’s coming out is "Fired Up," because it’s time to make some noise and stop complaining. I’m doing this with Rob Dukes from Exodus, Mick Mars from Motley Crue, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Joan Jett, Rome Ramirez from Sublime and more.
It’s about to get really fun in the music business. We’re gonna make some iconic songs about bullying, substance abuse – I've been sober for 10 years – the violence in the streets. It’s about to get real.
OMC: Why did you pick Milwaukee to open Clicks, your "unique boutique?"
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.