Legendary DMC Performing at the Howard Theatre
McDaniels grew up in New York City. He was born to an unwed mother who surrendered him to the New York Foundlinghome. He was a ward of the Foundling, in foster care, until placed with the McDaniels and eventually adopted by them. He attended Rice High School in Manhattan and later enrolled in St. John’s University in Queens.
McDaniels first became interested in hip hop music after listening to recordings of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. In 1978, McDaniels taught himself to DJ in the basement of his parents’ home, using turntables and a mixer given to him by his older brother, Alford. During this period he adopted the stage name “Grandmaster Get High”.
Later that year, McDaniels sold his DJ equipment, after his friend Joseph “Run” Simmons acquired his own turntables and mixer. After Jam-Master Jay – who had a reputation as the best young DJ in Hollis – joined the group, Run encouraged McDaniels to rap rather than DJ. Gradually, McDaniels came to prefer rapping to mixing records, and adopted the nickname of “Easy D”. In 1981, he dropped the “Easy D” moniker in favor of “DMcD”, the way he signed his work in school, and then to the shorter “D.M.C.”. This new nickname alternately stood for “Devastating Mic Control” or “Darryl Mac”, his nickname since childhood as referenced in the lyrics of the song “King of Rock”.