The Rock Side of Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels

Darryl McDaniels in 2006
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Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Jam Master Jay’s murder in 2002 effectively ended Run-DMC, leaving remaining members Rev Run (Joseph Simmons) and DMC (Darryl McDaniels) to pursue other interests, mostly outside hip-hop. McDaniels still had an itch to perform, though, but his musical interests were more along the lines of classic rock, not the aggressive hip-hop Run-DMC was famous for.

In 2006, McDaniels made a solo record, Checks, Thugs and Rock N Roll, on which he played out his directional shift, working with a number of artists to create a classic-rock/rap hybrid that was a fair distance from his work with Run, but still true to his legend as an MC. Those collaborations represent the bulk of DMC’s solo output, though, as we’ll hear, he has also worked with some other surprising artists. Here are a few highlights of those rocking team-ups:

“Machine Gun” (with Tal B.): Violence permeates the world of many African-Americans at home - why would they gear up and inflict violence on peoples of other nations as soldiers in wartime? McDaniels and guest Tal B. ask that tough question and a few more in this hard-rock banger from Checks, Thugs and Rock N Roll.

“Watchtower” (with Josh Todd and Elliott Easton): Buckcherry’s Josh Todd lends some hard-rock cred to this quasi-cover of the Bob Dylan classic made famous by Jimi Hendrix. McDaniels’ take owes much to Hendrix’s, though it’s a slow-burning run until just after the second chorus, when the beats get louder and guitarist Elliot Easton (of The Cars) lets fly with a torrid solo.

READ MORE: October 1968: Jimi Hendrix Travels to 'Electric Ladyland'

“Com 2 Gether” (with Rev Run): It might seem like cheating to include a DMC solo track with his longtime partner in rhyme Rev Run, but this one deserves notice, as it was the first time the two appeared on a record together after Run-DMC’s split. The song conjures The Beatles’ “Come Together,” of course (at least lyrically), and it’s also got a spooky beat, not to mention an energetic verse from Run, and is well worth tracking down.

READ MORE: July 1986: Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. Change the Game with "Walk This Way"

“Anacrime” (with Solus Deus): This is perhaps the strangest of McDaniels’ rock collaborations - a guest spot on a track by a death metal supergroup whose members hailed from such bands as Bleed the Sky, Living Sacrifice, Time Spent Burning and Once to Die. Between verses sung by a Solus Deus member in demented-Cookie-Monster voice, DMC yells a lot, incorporating snippets of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” and generally sounding menacing...or as menacing as once can sound next to a demented Cookie Monster.

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