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What Run-DMC, Peter Parker, and Linus have in common
Hari Sreenivasan: A new picture book meant to build confidence in kids was released earlier this month. It's called "Darryl's Dream," and its author is Darryl McDaniels. You might know him better as DMC, of the legendary hip hop group Run-DMC. The path from rapper to children's book author may seem an unlikely one, but in McDaniels' case, there were hints along the way. NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker has our story.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: I'm D.M.C. in the place to be. I go to St. John's University.
Christopher Booker: Since his earliest days on the mic, DMC, the co-founder of what many consider to be the greatest rap group of all time has offered countless rhymes and tales about what it was to be a kid from Queens who wore big glasses, loved reading books and learned above all else, the importance and power of being yourself.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: When you listen to all my rhymes it's almost like you open up a book, you see this guy on a cover with a microphone looking like Thor and you open it up and the first words in the book is, 'I'm the king of rock. There is none higher. Sucka MC's should call me sire! To burn my kingdom, you must use fire, but I won't stop rocking until I retire!' That means you could burn down this physical kingdom, but nobody determines who and what I will be in this world.
Christopher Booker: It was the power of the lyrics and storytelling from DMC along with Reverend Run and Jam Master Jay that announced to the world that a new cultural force had arrived. For DMC this power was born from a childhood spent with a nose in books and a nagging feeling that he didn't fit in.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: I got teased, bullied and picked on for wearing glasses. I got teased, bullied and picked on for always being on an honor roll, but what got me through those things was, you know, reading up the Peanuts and I would always love the part when Linus and Charlie Brown would go to the wall - the fritz wall - and it's that scene where Linus says to Charlie Brown, 'a lot of people go through those things, you just have to', Linus would always give him these words and also it was comic books. I was reading these comic books and, you know, Peter Parker, an awkward kid trying to make it through life, but he was Spiderman! You know what I am saying? The only time I saw powerful beings who were geeky, nerdy and very smart like me was these superhero guys. So that was a lot of my, that was the influence that gave me confidence. I can be like Charlie Brown. I can be like Linus. I can be like Peter Parker.
Christopher Booker: So how does Linus and Peter Parker then result in DMC, the rapper?
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: So all of this stuff is going in, but there's no way for it to come out because when I was a little kid, you know Marvin Gaye and Al Green and James Brown and The Beatles and stuff like that's what my moms and pops thought was still cool, so I didn't have a music. I didn't have a musical outlet. I heard all the songs, but then this thing called Hip Hop comes over the bridge from the Bronx and Queens and so I said, 'I got it!' All of this imagination and education and information in me, I can tell stories over music just like the books that I've been reading.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: Well my name is DMC, the all-time great, I bust the most rhymes in New York state. Reporters cry...
Christopher Booker: While Run DMC's contribution to musical history and culture has long been solidified and McDaniel's has spent years meeting and speaking to students of all ages about his life and career, in recent years he has been working to weave his MC talents and insights into a collection of children's content.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: What's the word? What's the word? We're going to learn something new that you may have never heard! What's the word?
Christopher Booker: Voicing the new short-form series, 'What's the Word on Noggin,' Nickelodeon's interactive learning service for preschoolers, and earlier this month, McDaniel's released 'Darryl's Dream.' Having already penned two memoirs, this book, co-written with educators Shawnee & Johnny Warfield and Adam Padilla, is DMC's first in a series of children's books. The book tells the tale of a young, shy Darryl and his struggles with adding his name to a list of kids entering a school poetry contest in the face of taunts and dismissals from some of his schoolmates.
Christopher Booker: Did you go into this thinking I want to write something that addresses self-doubt? And if so, how much of a challenge was that? That's a heavy concept.
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: That's a real heavy concept. When you're dealing with self-doubt, you've got a figure out a way. What is the right way to do this? What is the most effective way to do this? I mean, the bottom line is how do I show kids that not only is it cool to believe in yourself. See, that's the thing you got to get over. Is it cool for me to do this? Is it cool for them to believe in themselves? And does believing in myself get me the results that I want? In one example, that shows that it does is when Darryl crosses his name off the board, he immediately felt something, he immediately realizes. 'This is not what I want to do, but I'm only doing this because they teased me.' So right then and there, if he didn't know exactly know what it is or what it was, but he realized there's something wrong. Prior to him doing that, he was OK. I don't want a kid to not be able to fulfill his or her purpose and destiny. What I mean by that is, a kid that wants to be a scientist or there is a boy that wants to be a ballet dancer, but they won't do it because they think the other kids will think that ain't cool, what they think about themselves. So one of the reasons that I wrote the book is the desire and the feeling or the thing that they have to want to be the thing - that's OK. And even if you're afraid, you got anxiety, you aren't sure about yourself, you have in the way who you are, what you are, what you like, the way you look, you have everything necessary for you to succeed in life.
Christopher Booker: Is this sending a message to your younger self about how it all plays out?
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels: Yes, it is. Everything that I thought was wrong with me, my glasses being a nerdy, geeky kid. Everything that I thought was wrong with me was actually the power, the confidence to self-esteem and enthusiasm about myself that I didn't think was worth anything which allowed me to become Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. That third guy and Run-D.M.C.The same way that 18-year-old DMC got up there, talked about college and family and Christmas time in Hollis Queens. I can tell stories about what the kindergarten kid went through.
Run DMC: This speech is my recital, I think it's very vital, to rock (a rhyme), that's right (on time). It's Tricky is the title. Here we go.