photo & text by nacrowe
it must be a special breed of curse to be celebrated for something that you felt little ownership of in creating. such was the case with DARRYL "DMC" MCDANIELS of the legendary NYC HIP HOP group RUN-DMC as detailed in his memoir TEN WAYS NOT TO COMMIT SUICIDE (AMISTAD, 2016) where he details how allowed a situation to foster where his voice was not respected or given attention, which led to drowning out his frustration in alcohol and long fugues of intense depression. his story is one of coming to terms with himself and establishing parameters in his life through the support of family.
speaking of family, one interesting aspect of this memoir is his coming to terms with learning that he was adopted as an adult. at first this was a cutting revelation that cut to the core of his identity, but over time he learned that he only gained a new family. with his voice in tatters due to an unusual congenital defect in his larynx and his relation with REVEREND RUN nonexistent, this new information freed him to learn about himself through advocacy and charitable work associated with orphans, adoptees and foster children.
for me what was interesting about this book was his self-expressed nerddom as a child being interested in reading and comic books and school. the RUN-DMC thing happened as a lark that turned into a career wavering to the expectations of record companies and yes-men that didn't have his interests at heart. the fact that HIP HOP stardom was something that got in the way of his original pursuits in college is beyond interesting.
ultimately he concludes that being of use to people and helping others is what he values in his life, not chasing fame or record sales or reality television. one other thing, REVEREND RUN comes off horrible in this memoir. he seems very much like someone focused on chasing money and uses those around him to that end. even his spirituality is called into question due to his association with a prosperity ministry which basically is made of televangelists using him for his clout with the urban community. makes sense but seems sad nonetheless that RUN would be so susceptible to being involved in such a cult. be apparently he is.
if you are a fan of DMC and appreciate brutally honest memoirs, the healing power of music, and the redeeming power of family, this book is certainly for you. if you like your nostalgic vision of classic RUN-DMC unscathed and untarnished, definitely look elsewhere.