Billboard: Watch the Roots’ NBA All-Star Game Musical ‘The Evolution of Greatness’

by Colin Stutz

Jidenna, Daveed Diggs, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Michael B. Jordan, and the Roots perform during the All-Star Game as part of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 19, 2017 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

‘Hamilton’ actor Daveed Diggs, DJ Jazzy Jeff, actor Michael B. Jordan, Jidenna and Run D.M.C.’s Darryl McDaniels all played a part.

The Roots kicked off the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans on Sunday (Feb. 19) with a star-studded basketball musical called The Evolution of Greatness.

With the help of Hamilton actor Daveed Diggs, DJ Jazzy Jeff, actor Michael B. Jordan, Jidenna, Run D.M.C.’s Darryl McDaniels and others, the Roots took over the Smoothie King Center to examine the history of the game.

“We live in a culture that has always been obsessed with one age-old question: who’s the best?” the Roots’ Black Thought said opening the number — which the band created — setting up an era-by-era look at basketball’s greatest players and the sport’s development over time.

The Roots perform during H.O.M.E. in DC with Martell Cognac at Union Market on Nov. 5, 2016 in Washington, DC.
The Roots to Deliver NBA-Themed Musical With Special Guests at All-Star Game
McDaniels spoke with Billboard about the performance, highlighting its educational value for a younger generation who may not know about the NBA’s rich history.

“[The Roots] wanted to do something that wasn’t just based on the entertainment value,” he said. “While you’re entertaining people, you should be able to educate, inspire, motivate and teach, which is the basis of hip-hop.”

Watch The Roots’ musical The Evolution of Greatness here:

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Billboard: Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels on Teaming With The Roots for NBA All-Star Performance & Playing Chance The Rapper’s Father on ‘SNL’

Written by: Adelle Platon
Photo Credit: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game will kick off with a blast from the past. Prior to the introductions of the All-Star East and West teams on Sunday, Feb. 19 in New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, The Roots will orchestrate an NBA-themed musical titled The Evolution of Greatness, which will feature contributions from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of legendary hip-hop group Run-D.M.C., Jidenna, Hamilton star Daveed Diggs and actor Michael B. Jordan. The production is set to take viewers through each generation of the NBA, from the 1950s to the present.

Twenty-four hours before his rehearsal with the talented crew, the Queens-bred rap icon hopped on the phone with Billboard to discuss his involvement in the show, the connection between basketball and hip-hop, how Run-D.M.C. could have convinced Michael Jordan to team with Adidas over Nike, as well as his love for Chicago upstart Chance The Rapper. The NBA All-Star Game begins at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 19 on TNT.

The Roots perform during H.O.M.E. in DC with Martell Cognac at Union Market on Nov. 5, 2016 in Washington, DC.
The Roots to Deliver NBA-Themed Musical With Special Guests at All-Star Game
You are working on The Roots’ NBA-themed musical The Evolution of Greatness. How did that production come together?

I got a call from The Roots, and they wanted to do something that was gonna be educational. With sports or music — it could be anything nowadays, for some reason — the current generation has no idea of the people before them, and that applies especially to hip-hop. I guess for the last 20 years, it’s been happening with sports. Everyone’s so caught up on who’s on the radio, TV or court now, who’s on the TV now. They wanted to do something that wasn’t just based on the entertainment value. While you’re entertaining people, you should be able to educate, inspire, motivate and teach, which is the basis of hip-hop.

DJ Jazzy Jeff, Michael B. Jordan and others are also contributing to the show.

The coolest thing is that when [The Roots] said Michael B. Jordan, I was like the “great actor dude?” Tariq was like, “Yeah, he gon’ be rhyming. He gon’ be spitting.” I won’t put it past [Jordan], because he’s so good when he plays his roles. I’m really excited to see that.

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Slaves on Dope Have Fun With ‘Horse’ Double Entendre Drug References, Embrace ‘Script Writer’ Collaboration With DMC

By Chad Childers

Slaves on Dope unleashed their latest studio album, Horse, back in October of this year and the disc has yielded one of the more interesting collaborations of 2016 as the band teamed with iconic Run-D.M.C. great Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels on the track “Script Writer.” We recently sat down with Slaves on Dope singer Jason Rockman and guitarist Kevin Jardine along with McDaniels to discuss the Horse album as well as their collaboration.
Though there is some past with drugs and the album is titled Horse, Rockman tells us that the disc is written more from a social commentary standpoint these days than personal experience. Plus, the band likes to have a little fun with the writing process. “There’s a lot of social commentary and a lot of play on words. The name Slaves on Dope is like a double entendre, so we’re kind of having a little bit of fun with it,” says the singer, who reveals he’s been sober for 24 years.
Jardine also discusses the muse behind the song “Health Food and Heroin,” and then all three get into discussing how the collaboration on “Script Writer” came to be. After meeting on Rockman’s interview show, the pair discussed a possible collaboration and it turns out the track that the singer sent McDaniels was a perfect fit. “I started writing and I just wrote so much,” says McDaniels, while Rockman adds, “It all fit with the theme cause it all deals with insomnia.” “I never sleep, so I loved this song,” says McDaniels. “I’m like, he’s talking about me.” Rockman says he was blown away by what the rap legend submitted, stating that his contribution showed that he truly listened and got what the song was about.

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Photo Coverage: Inside @TheDannyAiello Christmas Party at The Triad

by Stephen Sorokoff Dec. 20, 2016

Danny Aiello had his annual Christmas party at The Triad last night and BroadwayWorld was there.

There are some performance events around Christmas time that we are lucky are not known by the general public so it is easier to get in. They are those special celebrity parties that the “insiders” go to. Danny Aiello has been having that type of Christmas music show for the last three years and it’s a coup to get a ticket. This year he had to play two shows back to back at The Triad to satisfy his friends, and probably next year he’ll have to do a week to accommodate his fans. Danny Aiello & his band Joe Geary & the Guys had their 3rd Annual Christmas Party yesterday – a holiday celebration filled with music, memories & laughter – with a collection of songs from Danny’s five albums. With great reviews from both The New York Times & LA Times, Aiello delights fans with a unique flair to his holiday favorites: “His voice warm & amiable…a pure manifestation of the abundant life experience he brings to his art.” A NYC treasured holiday event that raises your spirits as only this Academy Award Nominee can.

Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff

Original Article Source

My View: When They Say Seating Limited They Really Mean It – The Danny Aiello Christmas Party

There are some performance events around Christmas time that we’re lucky are not known by the general public. It makes it easier to get in for the devoted fans and friends. They are the special celebrity parties that the “insiders” go to. Danny Aiello has been having that type of Christmas music show for the last three years and it’s a coup to get a ticket. This year he had to play two shows back to back at The Triad to satisfy his friends, and probably next year he’ll have to do a week to accommodate his fans. Danny Aiello & his band Joe Geary & the Guys had their 3rd Annual Christmas Party yesterday – a holiday celebration filled with music, memories & laughter – with a collection of songs from Danny’s five albums. With great reviews from both The New York Times & LA Times, Aiello delights fans with a unique flair to his holiday favorites: “His voice warm & amiable…a pure manifestation of the abundant life experience he brings to his art.” A NYC treasured holiday event that raises your spirits as only this Academy Award Nominee can.

(For another article by Stephen & complete photos of Danny’s show go to

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Project/Object’s Frank Zappa repertoire nostalgic for Swarmius’ composer Joseph Martin Waters and old high school buddy

Friday night’s (Oct. 21) Cutting Room pairing of Project/Object—The Music of Frank Zappa, featuring Ike Willis and Don Preston with San Diego electronic ensemble Swarmius was a dream bill—but only for two dreamers in the room.

That would be me and Joseplh Martin Waters, the professor of music composition and computer music at San Diego State University—and the acclaimed composer-performer who conceived Swarmius. For the Cutting Room gig Swarmius was made up of conductor/programmer Waters, saxophonists Todd Rewoldt and Michael Couper, pianist Geoffrey Burleson and guests Gene Pritsker (guitar) the artist Mark Kostabi, whose artwork graces the Cutting Room walls, and who also composes and plays piano.

The term “trans-classical” has been created to describe the music of Swarmius, and it does in fact serve up a singular multicultural, multi-genre musical mix-up, heavy on classical, jazz, rock and electronics and performed by the monster musicians the concept requires. His Cutting Room set focused on new material from the forthcoming album Swarmius III—Trans-Classical, and like preceding Swarmius recordings, is surprisingly accessible, with Joe’s conducting (without a baton) while programming from an Apple laptop onstage with his instrumentalists: You can actually follow the development of his complicated compositions easily just by watching the emotional drama and intensity in his hands and face as he conducts, said compositions including, at the Cutting Room, Trans-Classical‘s “instant gratification single” “EeOoEe,” which has just been released digitally ahead of the album.

That’s right, I still call him Joe, because he was just Joe Waters back at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin, Class of 1970, albeit a musical whiz kid even then, when his band was Spindlebean—a loose aggregate of musicians, and friends (and at least one stoner) who sang along to Joe’s Zappa-like lyrics and melodies. So it was extraordinary indeed to be sitting next to Joe at the Cutting Room, 46 years later, listening to longtime Zappa band veterans vocalist/guitarist Ike Willis and keyboardist Don Preston, now 84, play the music of Frank Zappa.

“The first Zappa album that really caught my attention was Uncle Meat,” said Joe afterward, referring to the 1969 double album. “This I listened to obsessively with my friends while we were experimenting with marijuana and psychedelics in high school, and it became a central playlist of our little community. But my all-time favorite was We’re Only in It for the Money [1968]. I found the album cover and the title shocking, and was incredulous that it could be lampooning the gods of popular music–the Beatles–jabbing and belittling their generation-defining album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had already achieved iconic status.”

He continued: “The first time I heard We’re Only in It for the Money I was tripping on acid, and the ‘through-composed’ album structure, where one song seamlessly merged into the next, and where text and composition, social commentary, acoustic instruments and electronics all swirled around together and through each other, was a deep aesthetic revelation.”

Joe recalled attending his first Zappa concert sometime around the release of his classic 1969 Hot Rats album.

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Fanatics & Run-DMC Launch New RUN-CTY Fashion Line [Photos]

by D.L. Chandler (@dlchandler123)

Fanatics, a top provider of official sports merchandise, announced on Friday (Oct. 7) that it has joined forces with Run-DMC in unveiling the new collaborative fashion line, RUN-CTY. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and TJ Mizell, the son of the late Jam Master Jay, are partners in the new venture.

The launch took place in New York at the NBA store, which displayed the exclusive product line. RUN-CTY’s collection includes tee-shirts, snapback hats, and other items in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes.

“It’s cool to have the RUN-DMC logo be part of this special collection,” said DMC via a press release. “I like having the spirit of our music history tied into the passion of sports fans around the world.”

The NBA Store NYC launch featured a DJ session performed by Mizell and DMC was also on hand for the festivities.

Check out the photos from the official Fanatics and RUN-CTY launch event in New York on the following pages.

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By: James Campion

Eric Hutchinson “Anyone Who Knows Me” Tour Highline Ballroom, NYC 9/16/16

It noisily moves across the nation like a four-man, air-tight, funky, harmonious pop Special Forces unit; Eric Hutchinson’s “Anyone Who Knows Me” American Tour is coming and you should not let it pass without seeing it.

The launch came a few weeks back at the Highline Ballroom in Downtown New York City, Hutchinson’s home turf. The wiry, vocally elastic, 36 year-old multi-instrumentalist and mighty songsmith has released a new album, Easy Street, arguably his finest, most diverse collection of songs yet, which is saying something. Like his previous three studio efforts, Hutchinson has crafted a pop libretto in which to better serve his dynamic stage show, which over the years has transformed from a one-man, one-liner intimate presentation to a full-out James Brown-style extravaganza. This one is different, and I believe, after covering Hutchinson now for over a decade, it is his finest.

The band, now called The Believers (Elliott Blaufuss – keys, guitars, vocals, Ian Allison – bass, vocals, Bryan Taylor – drums, vocals) is a supple extension of Hutchinson’s musical zig-zags through several styles; funk, pop, rock, ska, and ballads. Wherein the past he’s displayed moments of brilliance in a band setting, none of it compared to his seminal solo performances that catapulted him on the scene and endeared him to his growing fanbase. The Believers, most pointedly Elliott Blaufuss, with his effortless switching between musical personas from lead guitarist, background vocalist, accompanying keyboardist, and all-around crowd pleaser, frame the essence of Hutchinson’s expansive repertoire.

On this tour, Hutchinson and the Believers aim to please; cranking out highlights’ of his entire catalog; his most popular (“Tell The World”, “Forever”) beloved (“Rock and Roll”, “Breakdown More”), and brand new soon-to-be staples (“Good Rhythm” and “Dear Me”). In turn, the man in front seems to be having the time of his life. “I’m so proud of the show, The Believers and I put out there every night,” says Hutchinson. “I’ve been touring like crazy the last year and a half. I haven’t been on the road this much since I first got signed to Warner Bros Records ten years ago. I spent all last summer opening for Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix in these massive venues, including Staples Center in LA and two nights at Radio City Music Hall.”

All of this road work has refined Hutchinson’s performances and breathed new life into his work, both with the band and acoustically, embracing his roots in a new way. For instance, fans will get a real treat during a truly stripped down and slower version of his 2012 hit, “Watching You Watch Him”, which originally premiered on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy in September of 2011. After regaling the audience with a wonderfully revealing origin of the song, Hutchinson played it “as it was meant to be heard”, alone and endearing.

But, in the end, this is a rousing rock and roll and soul review; replete with many dance numbers and if the New York audience was any indication, sing-a-longs galore. From heart-thumping version of his Stax-laden, “The Basement” to the multi-layered versions of “Okay, It’s Alright”, “You Don’t Have to Believe Me” and one of the best versions of “Love Like You” that I have heard to date.

“It took me a while, but by the end of that run of shows last year, I could look out at of a sea of ten thousand people and feel in control of that crowd and understand how to work that an entire arena,” says Hutchinson. “Now I know how to lead an audience of ten or ten thousand, so boiling that live show down for our headlining run in clubs has been fun and challenging. This is my last tour for a while and I’m doing my best to be present, reflect on how many times I’ve been through these cities at different stages of my life, and enjoy every moment of this run.”

Trust me. Do not miss Eric Hutchinson this time around.

Original Article Source here

Loudwire: Slaves on Dope Featuring DMC, ‘Script Writer’ – Exclusive Video Premiere

By Chad Childers

Slaves on Dope are ready to rock once more. The band has a new album called [HORSE] due on Oct. 7 and they’re teaming up with Loudwire to exclusively bring you the premiere of the video for their song “Script Writer,” which features a guest turn by RUN-DMC legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.
The clip, set in a hospital, centers on a man (played by singer Jason Rockman) dealing with his inner demons in his drab environment, occasionally channeling his emotions through the projected existence of DMC. Meanwhile, the other Slaves on Dope band members can be spotted rocking out in the dimly lit white hallways.
Singer Jason Rockman tells us, “Working with Darryl was a dream come true for us. Being RUN-DMC fans since we were kids, he has always been someone we wanted to collaborate with. He came to Montreal prepared and later down his parts in three takes. A true pro. We bonded over our love of comic books and Public Enemy, and he came back in July for the Montreal Comicon, so we shot the video for the song while he was here. We can’t wait for the world to hear what we created!”
The “Script Writer” clip was directed by JP Barcha Charlebois and provides the perfect complement for the anguish going on within the song and the mind of the central character in the video.
As stated, “Script Writer” appears on the [HORSE] album, which is due Oct. 7. The album also includes guest appearances by Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher, Bad Brains vocalist H.R. and The Damn Truth’s Lee-La Baum. If you want to pre-order the album, you can do so via Amazon and iTunes. You can also pre-order the album via the band’s website.

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His dad inherited a life-altering disease. He had a 50-50 chance of having it too.

By Maz Ali
Photo by Ralph Arvesen/Flickr.

There are certain moments in our lives that are too important not to share with the people we love.
Singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson is having one of those moments.

Hutchinson and his band recently embarked on a tour to promote his new album, which he was proud to have independently produced. They are set to perform in Hutchinson’s home state of Maryland at Merriweather Post Pavilion, an over 19,000-seat outdoor amphitheater that has hosted some of the most famed musicians in modern history.

This is one show Hutchinson doesn’t want his family to miss. And he’s especially excited for his dad to see him on the historic stage. But getting him there requires more than a VIP pass.
Before Hutchinson was big enough to pick up a guitar, his dad was diagnosed with an adult-onset form of muscular dystrophy (MD).

In the decades that followed, the disease progressively took away his father’s control of his own body.

Though Hutchinson was too young to fully grasp the situation at the time, as his father’s condition progressed, a frightening picture came slowly into focus.

“I don’t remember when I first found out about my dad’s disease, but I just knew that something was different,” he said. “But the older I got, the more I understood, and the more I worried.”

Then, in college, he learned more about MD that gave him concern for his own future.

Most muscular dystrophies are genetic. Hutchinson had a 50% chance of inheriting the gene flaw that caused his father’s MD.

“When am I going to wake up and feel something?” he wondered. “When my hands were tired, I worried that they were symptoms.”

And as his creative interests became a full-time music career, he had a hard time facing the possibility that it could be taken away so prematurely.

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(New York, New York; August 8, 2016) Acclaimed singer/songwriter Laura Reed has released the video for her impassioned new song “Don’t Shoot,” which will be available everywhere as a single on August 19th in response to police and race-related gun violence and the questionable use of deadly force in altercations within the black community.

The moving video for the song filmed in black and white in Laura Reed’s native Raleigh, NC, and the city of Durham, NC, features local members of the community, social activists, musicians, and other artists holding up cue card-lyrics of the poignant song Part of the clip was filmed in a rally in Durham where community members and social activists gathered to advocate community-led policing and other solutions in an effort to fully engage the issue purposefully. Laura has designated that a portion of all proceeds from “Don’t Shoot” be donated to the Durham, NC organization SpiritHouse,, a thriving cultural arts and organizing network that outreaches with low-wealth families and community members to uncover and uproot systemic barriers that prevent communities from gaining the resources, leverage and capacity for long- term self-sufficiency.

This is the first single from Laura since her acclaimed debut album The Awakening was released in 2014, and she commented on the motivation behind “Don’t Shoot” and the opportunity to work with such dedicated artists and community activists. “It was beautiful to have the human element in this video and song,” says Laura. “Behind the words, the faces, the stories, the smiles, the pain…all of it is part of this story and message. I have been unable to turn my head from the violence and discrimination that is plaguing not only the United States but our world. I felt compelled to do something as an artist and it starts with a song and hopefully turns into considerable donations and community activism. I really hope to inspire others to get involved, to speak out, and to look at the systematic injustice that has become the status quo. I think a lot of violence stems from apathy, we become detached….I want to plant a seed of empathy.”

“Don’t Shoot” was produced by and co-written with Will Edwards at Copperline Ranch. Will’s diverse music career spans records, television, and film and includes 41 gold and platinum albums, multiple Grammy Award winning records and five Prime Time Emmys. He says, “This is a timely message that I am proud to be part of.”

The video was directed by André Leon Gray, (also serving as the video producer and cinematographer) who has been a key figure in Raleigh’s art scene for years. The self-trained artist’s mixed-media assemblages, which have been showcased at the Nasher, NC Museum of Art, 21C, and other exhibits, are considered devastating critiques of structural racism, whitewashed history, and pop-culture myths.

Director Andre Leon Gray stated: “For Laura Reed’s “Don’t Shoot” music video, my goal was to display the humanity of those who are concerned about their safety in a world that doesn’t seem to value their lives, along with those who recognize their humanity and love and support them despite an environment of hatred that is fueled by fear.”

Laura has recently performed “Don’t Shoot” in her live show, engaging audiences to become active in their community and vote. Her most recent album The Awakening (which she recorded in Nashville) was a musical transformation for her, after earning her stripes as lead vocalist for the southeastern R&B/Soul-tinged band Laura Reed And Deep Pocket. She tabled the funk/Reggae-informed shadings for a more intimate but accessible exploration on The Awakening, but returns to a reggae-infused sound on “Don’t Shoot.”. Her years of fronting a working band, combined with her unique and empowering outlook on life served her well in crafting the cornerstone album of her career, and the socially conscious “Don’t Shoot.”

She has toured the country extensively in support of her most recent album and turned heads at noted South By Southwest performances as well as other spotlight events over the years. The in-demand performer has been joined by some stellar singers and musicians on multiple past projects, including George Clinton, Killer Mike, Karl Denson, Kendra Foster, and Jewel. She’s also shared stages with a star-studded list of artists including India.Arie, Mali Music, Miguel, Daley, Valerie June and Anthony Hamilton, among others. Laura won the 2016 Summerfest Emerging Artist Series and was nominated for two 2015 Nashville Industry Music Awards (NIMA) – Best Female R&B Performer and Best Female R&B Vocalist. She was awarded her first NIMA in 2014 for Best R&B Solo Artist.

More information please contact Tracey Miller, TMA , / 609-383-2323




(New York, NY; August 15, 2015) UK singer/songwriter King Charles (Charles Costa) is gearing up for an eagerly awaited series of U.S. live dates this fall, opening for singer/songwriter Allen Stone on a much anticipated 20 city trek that kicks off on October 4 in Denver, CO. King Charles has also scheduled a bonus-string of solo headlining shows prior to and following the Allen Stone dates in response to U.S. fan-demand to catch the uplifting artist in a more intimate live setting. King Charles’ second studio album, Gamble For A Rose – produced by Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons (King Charles has toured with the band) – has received acclaim both in the states and his native UK (‘Marcus Mumford’s mate sees the bigger picture on anthemic second album…’ raved Q Magazine.’) The album debuted on the new UK Americana Chart at #3.

The King Charles/Allen Stone pairing will barnstorm across the U.S. this autumn, and includes performances in Colorado Springs, CO October 5, Ridgefield, CT October 11, New York City October 16, Atlanta, GA October 22, and pulling up in Phoenix, AZ on October 29 to close out the tour. King Charles’ solo dates prior to his role as Allen Stone opener kick off on September 29 in Toronto, ON. He returns to his headlining stretch again on October 30 in Los Angeles, CA, winding down in Seattle, WA on November 6.

Charles’ completed a nationwide tour of his native England earlier in 2016 boosted by the album’s warm UK reception. His live show has been hailed for years, with UK-based Lippy Magazine recently noting: ‘King Charles has an incredibly enigmatic and captivating presence as a performer, one that demands attention…’. It was the mutual live bonds stoked with kindred spirit Marcus Mumford playing out together in their formative years, and subsequent stints on the road with Mumford & Sons that led to the acclaimed band’s frontman taking the producer reins on Gamble For A Rose. West Londoner Charles had long been a buzzed-about commodity in the UK, with the new album arriving as his second release in England, and a worthy introduction here to U.S. music fans. The hypnotic title song, “Gamble For A Rose” was the kick-off single, accompanied by a mesmerizing video

To record the album, Charles and Mumford set up a DIY musical haven in a farm in Exeter, UK, complete with mattresses propped against the walls for makeshift vocal booths. Charles has described the recording as a ‘return to the beginning, of sorts,’ and the close friends/collaborators were joined by Winston Marshall from Mumford & Sons, as well as musical guests Charlie Fink and Tom Hobden from the band Noah and the Whale.

Songs on ‘Gamble For A Rose’ include the sparkling “Loose Change For The Boatman,” , Choke” – co-written with Marcus, “Carry Me Away” – which is the first song the artist ever wrote, the radio-friendly “Bright Thing,” the stirring “Tomorrow’s Fool,” and the uplifting “Lady Of The River” .

Says Marcus about the making of ‘Gamble For A Rose: “I wanted him to make a record where you could hear the strength of those songs more and not just the production. We recorded in the country to get to the heart of what that kind of record was.” Charles concurs: “I think we made the album I should have made five years ago. The challenge of dogs barking and tractors roaring was a good one. I don’t think you have to be precious about making great music. And that was our goal here.”

For more information please contact: Tracey Miller, TMA /

Huffington Post: Run-DMC Member Opens Up About His Battle With Mental Illness

Brennan Williams
Pop Culture Editor, The Huffington Post

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is back with a new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, which delves into a seemingly unlikely topic: mental health issues. But for the Run DMC co-founder, it’s a topic he knows all too well.

The book, which picks up where his 2001 autobiography King of Rock left off, describes what his life has been like since the 2003 murder of group mate Jam Master Jay. Most notably the memoir goes into the emotional effects of the search for his birth mother, which ultimately sent the hip-hop pioneer into a downward spiral of alcoholism and depression.

The New York native credits his decision to seek professional help in 2004 as one of the “best things” a man – specifically black men ― can do for himself.

“When I went to therapy I realized something that most men – I don’t care what race, creed, or color you are, but especially black men – I realized that therapy isn’t ‘soft’,” he told The Huffington Post. “My saying is, ‘Therapy is gangsta.’ It actually empowered me. It allowed me to say things that I thought about, but I would never want to hear myself say those things.”

Mental illness affects approximately 43.8 million American adults each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and suicide, than the general population.

For DMC, sharing his history with mental illness is his way of trying to help others dealing with similar issues.

“If you don’t discuss your mental health and therapy we will keep having this unnecessary cycle of us missing signals, signs and opportunities to eradicate the mental conditions that is brought on because of a continuation of a repeated cycle,” he said. “And we miss the chance to fully diagnose and treat the individuals who have mental health problems. So it’s important that people talk about it.”

“Ten Ways Not Commit Suicide” is now available at book stores and digital retailers.

If you — or someone you know — needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

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Ebony Magazine: [Black Mental Health Awareness Month] Darryl McDaniels Talks Suicide


Hip-hop didn’t save Darryl “D.M.C.”’ McDaniels’ life; it damn near killed him.
On stage, Darryl McDaniels of the hip-hop trailblazing trio Run-DMC, had an energy and confidence that defied gravity. Draped in gold chains with a fresh pair of white untied Adidas, DMC’s lyrics led a generation into hip-hop, a budding music genre that would later influence global culture.
But off stage, he was a man with demons.
Depression is a sneaky son of a b***h. Sometimes, it is a slow, undiagnosed realization that comes when a person is at their ugliest, or never at all. For Darryl, his depression was trapped between his personal happiness and other people’s expectations.
In his memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, Darryl writes, “My introduction to hip-hop – the very thing that would one day make me rich and famous – came as a result of me giving up something I loved for someone else’s desires.”
Depression doesn’t always give the benefit of self-awareness, which makes the downward spiral even more dangerous to those who suffer from its grip. Darryl didn’t know what to call what he was experiencing; he just wanted to make people happy.
“I didn’t know it at the time. It was easy for me to create, but something deep down inside me silently was looking for other people’s approval and acceptance. Hip-hop made me feel accepted with the down crowd and with the in crowd. It made me feel legitimate,” said Darryl.
Before Run-DMC, Darryl was a catholic school comic book geek from Queens, New York. In his book, Darryl notes that, “comics were an escape, a way to make myself feel strong and invincible rather than like the quiet little four-eyed nerd I essentially was.”
Darryl’s first love was comics. Hip-hop came second. His older brother, Alfred, introduced him to turntables and sound systems. Darryl even leveraged his comic book collection in order to raise money for brand new turntables for his older brother, in what he describes as one of the first instances of pleasing other people at his own expense.
But it wouldn’t be until his junior year of high school when he grew closer the Run that Darryl fell madly in love with hip-hop.
“Hip-hop [became] my new haven, another alternative reality that I could slip into and pretend to be somebody, anybody, other than the quiet kid who got straight A’s at Saint Pascal’s,” Darryl said in his book.
Rather it was comic books or hip-hop, Darryl’s passion was an escape, a crutch precluding him from chasing his personal happiness. The spotlight and stage of hip-hop provided an audience to witness Darryl’s escape from reality.
In his first on stage performance as part of Run-DMC, Darryl remembered being so drunk to the point where he didn’t recall performing at all.
“That [rhyming] was my private, make-believe play thing. Like I don’t do that in front of people. Hip-hop to me was play time. So, when he [Run] put me in his first show, I knew I needed some courage and the alcohol would give me some courage,” said Darryl.
Darryl, together with Joseph Simmons [Run] and Jason William Mizell [Jam Master Jay], would go on to make hip-hop history in 1984 with their groundbreaking self-titled debut album Run-DMC. The LP was the first rap album to sell more than half a million copies.
The group would continue its legacy with their third album, Raising Hell, the first hip-hop album to go triple platinum, with three million records sold in 1986.
“It’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time. It’s tricky…it’s tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky” became the chant of an emerging culture of hip-hop lovers.
But Darryl’s success on the charts didn’t translate over to his personal happiness. He felt unheard in the group and that his untapped creativity was overlooked by Run and Jay.
“Many of my years in Run-DMC were spent feeling like an unneeded third wheel. After our first album, my role in the group steadily diminished. I still recorded, but Run and Jay had little use for any of my creative ideas,” wrote Darryl in his memoir.
Darryl turned to alcohol to hide his emotions, which soon developed into a full out addiction. His drinking only intensified with every successive album. By the time Run-DMC dropped their fifth album, Back From Hell in 1990, Darryl was drinking entire twelve-bottle cases of malt liquor a day, which led to acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. After a month and a half in the hospital and not being able to ingest solid foods, Darryl had two choices – don’t drink and live, or drink and die.
Darryl chose to live.

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