This was my journey for four years. About 12 of us traveled from Queens to

Rice, a Catholic school in Harlem. We’d get off the train at 125th and Lexington. Up here was way different from Queens. In Queens, we had houses. Up here, you ain’t got no houses and no backyards. Queens was a lower­ middle­class suburb. So Harlem was a big culture shock.

You got a million record stores here, even early in the morning, with the speakers outside playing music. A lot of the record stores was just covers for reefer spots. We would weigh our options. “Yo, who got a quarter?” ’Cause they sold loose joints then. When it got warmer, you get a little half pint or whatever, everybody take a swig. Then you go to the candy store and get a lot of gum because you didn’t want the teachers to smell the liquor and the weed on your mouth.

Right on the corner of 125th and Fifth Avenue, where MetroPCS is, was one of the most infamous reefer spots ever, Hardest Hard. We never messed with Hardest Hard till we was leaving to come home. But the cool thing about Hardest Hard was, since it was a record store, too, Hardest Hard was where I was getting most of my breakbeats.

Mount Morris Park, down Fifth Avenue, that was one of the detours. School was just a block away. You sit right there until school time. And on 125th Street, where Checkers is at, there used to be a pizza shop called Pizza Patio, and all the guys from Queens, our little clique, we used to go in and play

the video games when we got there early in the morning. All the games from the ’80s. Pac­Man, Asteroids. Centipede! Until we got kicked out because one of our friends lit up a joint one morning. That ruined it all! That was our safe zone, our little haven. You had to be at school by 8:40. “Yo, it’s 8:30, let’s go.” Stop playing the games. You’d leave your Centipede game running ’cause you don’t want to get detention.

As told to Dave Bry

DMC, a.k.a. Darryl McDaniels, is a founding member of the hip­hop trio Run­ DMC, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.


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