Run-D.M.C.’s D.M.C. and Artist/Director Justin Bua Talk D.M.C. Doc
Bua: Well, you know, Ice-T is a legend, obviously. He knows Darryl, he knows him well. He’s an authority on hip-hop. He’s an authority on the music industry, certainly understands the layers—the messed up, fucked up qualities of what it means to be in the game. He says, “You’re alone on the boat. You’ve made it, but everything you thought it was going to be when you arrived, is nothing, nothing like you could’ve imagined. So you go into a depression.” He gets the rise and fall of D.M.C. because he himself has experienced it. MC Lyte, Melle Mel, Grand Master Caz, Bill Adler from Def Jam, Z-Trip, Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys—all these people have achieved a level of success where they can really relate to Darryl’s success. And on top of that, like myself, they’re all fans of his.
Is there anything you hadn’t known before that you learned through the film?
Bua: Yeah, I didn’t realize, first of all, how much he drank. I mean literally, physically, the consumption of alcohol. I didn’t realize he was on the verge of suicide. I didn’t realize he was incredibly unhappy with his relationship with himself and with his relationship with Run D.M.C.. As a fan, I just saw the “Devastating Mic Controller.” The “King of Rock.” And I couldn’t see beneath that because he didn’t let—as the generation growing up around him—he didn’t let us inside to that world. So it’s really interesting to see that. And not from the bitter place, not from a resentful place. But from a place of realness and sadness. So he really allowed me to go into his world with open arms.
Is that something you think he was able to cope with through this process?
Bua: Yeah. Kind of come out of all of this and become a different person. From an alcoholic to a workout-aholic. He’s definitely taking his addictions and transforming them to positive things. I think he’s transformed himself to a positive being, and I think that’s a beautiful thing to see. He’s still a student of the game.
When will it air again?
Bua: Just keep track of Ovation TV for the next listing of D.M.C.. They seem to be playing the bejesus out of it. It’s on crazy constant rotation because the guy was the highest rated original series I’ve ever done.
What projects are you guys working on now?
D.M.C.: The new album is called Rock Solid featuring Mick Mars from Mötley Crüe, Sebastian Bach, Freddie Foxxx AKA Bumpy Knuckles, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Roberta Freeman, who sung with Guns N’ Roses and Pink Floyd, Pauley Perrette AKA Pauley P. from NCIS. The new music is King of Rock on steroids. It’s live drums, live guitar. When I was bragging I was the king of rock, that was me make-believing. Now, I’m living my rock n’ roll fantasy. Album will be 2012. First single “Rock Solid.” Dropping in 2 weeks.
Bua: November 8th, I have Legends of Hip-Hop dropping. So it’s my first book that pays homage to 50 of the greatest legends who’ve personally influenced my life, and their paintings. So I’ve got everyone from Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Melle Mel, Rakim, Beastie Boys, Run D.M.C., Jay-Z, Eminem—I mean I’ve got Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah—I painted so many people who were just completely—not only revolutionary in real life but for me in development of an artist and a human being just have influenced me so much and brought beauty to the world.
Speaking of influence, Tupac’s 15th death anniversary is coming up in September. What did his legacy mean to you?
D.M.C.: Tupac is incredible. The reason why Tupac is a genius is because he could curse Biggie out in a minute, but he’s powerful because on the very next song, he could make a “Brenda Had a Baby” or “Dear Mama.” Tupac is like Treach. Treach and Tupac were good because when Treach and Tupac stepped to that mic, they made incredible records. They wrote life-giving, inspirational records. Tupac is from the same, um, chromosome and DNA as Melle Mel and Afrika Bambaaataa. Yeah, we street, yeah, we out here with the homies, yeah, we trying to survive, but when we step to that mic, when we open our mouth, shocked us, the hip-hop culture people. The world at large looked at a Pac or Melle Mel or Afrika Bambaaataaa and Zulu Nation, at a Treach and go “I can’t believe this is coming out of that young man!” That’s powerful! That’s what Pac records represent. He could curse you out, he could make the party record, he could throw his money up in the air, but in the very next breath he could make a “Brenda Had a Baby” or “Keep Your Head Up.” That’s power. That’s a leader. We need more of that.
Bua: Hip-hop is like the High Renaissance. Renaissance really means “rebirth.” And I think hip-hop was a rebirth of culture, and at the forefront of that, he was the iconic image of the rebirth of that culture. He was somebody who reinvented the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act. He was also one of those people, like Michelangelo or Leonardo, who could do everything. That’s why I painted him for the cover of my book, because he is the quintessential hip-hop icon. He represents everything good, everything bad and everything beautiful. I use a William Butler Yeats line where I say, “A terrible beauty is born.” I mean, to me that really sums up Tupac. “A terrible beauty is born.”