Darryl “DMC” McDaniels & Lucky Strike Aim to Conquer Cancer

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels knows how to move a crowd.

As a member of legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC, McDaniels is an expert at using his voice and his music to get people up on their feet and in to action. With this same energy and fervor, McDaniels is using his voice in a different way as a campaign ambassador for the Lucky Strike and Conquer Cancer Coalition partnership—which aims to conquer all forms of cancer by working together to build stronger communities across the country.

McDaniels chats with JET about his role as campaign ambassador, his personal connection to finding a cure for cancer and gives advice on how to live a long and healthy life.

JET: What is the Lucky Strike and Conquer Cancer Coalition partnership all about?

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: We’re just trying to bring awareness to cancer. Usually when people do cancer initiatives, it’s separate. Skin cancer is separate from liver. Liver cancer is separate from leukemia. We’re trying to discuss cancer as a whole as it affects everybody. We’re trying to bring more attention to diagnosis, research and treatment. Because there could be something where skin cancer can help leukemia, and leukemia can help liver. We’re just trying to discuss cancer as cancer—which is something that has never really been done before.

JET: What is your role as a campaign ambassador and why did you choose to fulfill that role?

DMC: In 2003, my father passed of liver cancer. If you remember in ’86, I didn’t rhyme about how much money I had in the bank, I rhymed about family. That was the most important thing to me. My father got liver cancer and just deteriorated quickly, so I can relate to people who lost people to lung cancer, leukemia, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer or whatever. My job as ambassador is to make some noise so people can pay attention and really get serious about it.

JET: That’s amazing that you decided to take on that role after being so personally affected by cancer.

DMC: Well that’s the whole purpose. That’s why we created hip-hop in the first place. We didn’t create hip-hop just to create rappers and DJs. People got it twisted now. We created hip-hop to be used as a vehicle, a foundation, the same way that you look at rock and roll. Bob Dylan, John Lennon—these people sung about civil rights, they sung about the Vietnam war and they sung about issues that affected their audience.

Now, hip-hop has gotten so far away from that. Hip-hop is about 45 years old. All of those little kids who invented hip-hop are fathers and grandfathers now and we have to deal with cancer. Aunts, uncles, friends, people that I went to high school with are dying of cancer. It seems like all the rappers nowadays are just punks because they seem to be scared to talk about the real issues that we weren’t scared to talk about as teenagers. We’re grown men running around like life isn’t life. Everybody’s not trying to rap and get a new car. We got education and health problems to worry about. We’re talking about everything that’s cool except for what’s important in life. So if nobody else is going to do it, DMC is going to be first to take the music back and start talking about what needs to be talked about.

JET: Being involved with this health related cause and with you being in such great shape, can you share with readers your personal advice on living a healthy lifestyle?

DMC: There’s a reason why at 30- or 60-years-old you can’t go to the park and play on the monkey bars. Why? Because you stopped playing on the monkey bars. But if you continue to play on those monkey bars you will be as healthy and as vibrant as you were when you were a little kid. So basically what I do is I still play on the monkey bars. I still read, write and experience everything that I experienced when I was 12-years-old sitting in my room reading comic books and writing rhymes. The whole thing is you have to keep moving. Also, you can’t eat as much fried chicken and ice cream as you used to eat. The key to eternal life is to keep playing in the park.

About Marissa Wallace

Marissa Wallace

Marissa Wallace is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist who delves into the multifaceted and rich fabric of Black arts and culture. Follow her happenings on Twitter @MarsWall_ for more.