Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels Tackles Alcoholism, Mental Health In New Memoir

Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels Tackles Alcoholism, Mental Health In New Memoir

By McCarton Ackerman 07/07/16

Darryl "DMC" McDaniels developed alcohol dependency followed by depression at the height of the legendary rap group's fame. 

Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels Tackles Alcoholism, Mental Health In New Memoir

Run-DMC frontman Darryl McDaniels is going from catchy rhymes to confessional books, revealing his struggles with addiction and depression in his new memoir Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide.

In an interview this week with Canadian news magazine Maclean’s, McDaniels revealed that he became dependent on alcohol and prescription drugs during the height of his fame. His alcohol consumption, which included drinking an entire case of Olde English 40 oz. malt liquor every day and putting a refrigerator in the hip hop group's tour van so they didn’t have to stop for alcohol, eventually led to struggles with depression. Those mental health battles were exacerbated by his world-famous voice giving out and later finding out he was adopted.

"No one asked me, ‘D, are you okay?’" said McDaniels. “I would’ve said, ‘Oh, you wanna know? I’m an alcoholic, suicidal, metaphysical, spiritual wreck that’s about to shoot people up in the mall and then go commit suicide.’”

McDaniels said that he even put out cries for help on some of Run-DMC’s most popular songs. On “The Ave.,” one of the tracks from their 1990 album Back from Hell, he rapped about his alcoholism at its peak.

"I said, ‘Sometimes I whine when I’m crying broke,’ and [Run-DMC member] Joe [Simmons] … thought I meant not crying,” he explained. “What I meant was they had 99-cent bottles of wine at the liquor store, Night Train, and when we was broke when we couldn’t get Bacardi or vodka and coke, we would go get 99 pennies and go get Night Train wine.”

At the worst of his alcoholism from 1988-1991, McDaniels developed acute pancreatitis and was told by his doctor that he would die unless he stopped. The rapper “went cold turkey for nine years,” but endured a four-year relapse after finding out he was adopted. After his wife continued encouraging him to go to rehab, McDaniels finally entered treatment and has been sober ever since.

He encouraged those who need help with their addiction to seek it, and made it a point to address what he believes is an unwillingness among men, especially African-American men, to admit weakness and openly talk about their struggles.

"The first thing you’ve got to say is ‘I need help.’ It took me sitting there after drinking a whole fifth of Remi Martin or Jack Daniels," he told Maclean's. "My wife was telling me, ‘D, you need to go to rehab,’ for four years. But I said, ‘No I’m all right.’ ‘Cause I was a functional drunk. It took me to say, ‘After rehab I still need therapy.’ And it took me to say, ‘It’s okay to cry.’ It took me to say, ‘It’s okay to feel the way I feel and then express the way I feel.’ So it’s a problem with men, but even more for black men."

He added, "In all of our cultures, there’s stupid things that us men do because we think it’s the masculine man thing to do, not realizing we are destroying our very universe.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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