One of hip-hop’s first superstar groups, Run DMC not only produced some of the finest classics, but set a tone for masculinity that would go on to dominate the industry as it aged. Hip-hop has had this obsession with a brave and tough exterior, and the ideals of machismo, money, drugs, sex and so on are synonymous with the genre, in spite of the countless artists who increasingly turn away from the stereotypes. Run DMC weren’t the first to present themselves as hypermasculine figures, but they were monolithic figures whose hard, half-rock-half-hip-hop music raised a generation. Smiles were a rarity, leather jackets were everywhere, and let’s not forget that legendary Aerosmith collab.
Behind that macho exterior, however, people are still human, and in 2016, that’s become clearer every day, even in hip-hop. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, one third of the group, has revealed in his new memoir Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide that he was affected heavily by alcohol addiction to the point that he was close to taking his own life. In an exclusive excerpt from the book over at People, McDaniels writes about what got him through it all.
“I was probably at my suicidal worst in 1997 during a two-week-long tour in Japan. The only song I listened to then was a soft-pop ballad by Sarah McLachlan called ‘Angel.'” Apparently, the rapper heard the slow ballad first in a cab ride in 1996. The song has since been used in a PSA to raise funds for the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
“I thought long and hard about killing myself every day in Japan. I tricked myself into thinking that my family might be better off without me. I considered jumping out of a window. I thought about going to a hardware store to buy poison to ingest. I thought about putting a gun to my temple. Whenever I’d listen to ‘Angel,’ though, I always managed to make my way back from the brink.”
The same year as that Japan tour, McDaniels met Sarah McLachlan at a pre-Grammy’s party. “I went over to her and was like, ‘Ms. McLachlan, you sing like an angel; you’re a God to me. I listen to that record every day of my life. That record takes all of the suicidal thoughts out of my life.'”
In 2000, McDaniels discovered that he was adopted, and his depression worsened along with his drinking. He approached McLachlan do do a duet with him, covering Harry Chapin’s “Cat In The Cradle.” They recorded it at McLachlan’s home studio, and after the recording session, she told him she was also adopted.
DMC McDaniels is currently sober and spends his time helping The Felix Oranization (his charity) mentor children who came from the foster care system.
The latest issue of People magazine is available now on newsstands, and digs deeper into McDaniels’ life and relationship with his biological mother. Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide is available to all on the 5th of July. You can order it here.