Run-DMC Member DMC Explains Why the Group’s Iconic Logo Is So Respected
The largest retailer in sports licensed merchandise and hip-hop's most legendary rap group have joined forces for a historic partnership that launches this fall at select sports retailers nationwide. Legendary rap group Run-DMC teams up with Fanatics to launch a new product line that will be featured across multiple professional sports leagues and pro teams.
Dubbed as the "Run-CTY" collection, the Fanatics line will feature Run-DMC's legendary logo emblazoned on several apparel pieces and accessories. The collection, ranging from T-shirts to snapbacks, is now available across men's, women's and youth sizes and will showcase the enduring popularity of the recognized Run-DMC logo and typeface. Cities from multiple teams across a variety of leagues will feature the widely recognized word "Run" positioned between the iconic thick red lines.
To help celebrate the partnership between Fanatics and Run-DMC, the NBA held a special launch event last week at their New York City NBA flagship store featuring a special guest appearance by Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels and a DJ session by TJ Mizell, son of the late Run-DMC member Jam Master Jay.
XXL caught up with D.M.C. to discuss the partnership with Fanatics, the trend of vintage rap and concert tees and the new music he's been working on. Check out the full interview with the legendary rapper below.
XXL: How did this partnership with Fanatics come about?
D.M.C.: Fanatics came to us and they said they wanted to do something that was going to incorporate the Run-DMC iconic logo with sports. When you see the Run-DMC logo, it’s one of those logos that you identify with. It has integrity. It has class. It's good and it's fun. There was always a relationship between hip-hop and sports, particularly the NBA you know, because when I was a kid we played ball all day.
When the sun went down we’d bring the turntables and the crates of records and we'd throw block parties or park parties. So they wanted to do something that was going to creatively and safely ignite those competitive flames that exist in sports. They took the Run-DMC logo and they take whatever team, whatever city and whatever those colors are and they utilize that Run-DMC logo to get a cool positive message across. The beautiful thing about that is that it’s so universal because of the team colors, so you’ll see the Run-DMC logo but it’ll be representing the Cleveland Cavaliers in their team colors. Or you'll see the Run-DMC logo in green because it's representing the Boston Celtics, so it’s a good thing and it’s flattering to us because after 36 years in existence our logo and our presence still earn respect. So it’s a huge collaboration for us.
After so many years, the Run-DMC logo has remained iconic in pop culture. During the process of coming up with the logo, did you ever think that it would stand against the test of time and become such a staple logo in hip-hop and around the world?
No, not at all. We knew it had the potential to be but we never knew it would reach that height of being accepted and respected. At the time the logo was created people, thought hip-hop was gonna be a fad and it was going to be over after 10 years, but not only did our music withstand the winds of time, so did our presence and our logo, but for us it was just something to put on our shirts.
But you see, that’s one of the most powerful things, when it’s not done to get money. When it's not done to get famous. When it's just done because it's real. You know, it can be real for five people, but if it’s real and sincere it’s going to go global. People tell me that when Steven Tyler took the mic stand and knocked the wall down in our "Walk This Way" video, that it didn’t just happen in the video, it happened around the world, so we had no idea it was going to be so huge. People tell me it’s like the McDonalds or it's like the Coca-Cola, or it's like the Rolling Stones logo and the Run-DMC logo is one of the most recognized logos of all time.
Look, we were just rapping and making beats at the time and all we wanted to do was rhyme and we had no idea that we would have such an influence on culture outside of our music. It gave the birth and the opportunity for Phat Farm, Sean John, G-Unit and other clothing brands to get shine. When we did the record “My Adidas,” we had no idea we were going to be the first non-athletic entity to receive a major endorsement from a sports apparel company and that’s what opened the doors for fashion. This project here combines music, fashion, hip-hop and sports, you know what I’m saying? And this is like a fashion statement in a major way.
There's a current trend of vintage rap tees and concert tees taking over. Did you ever expect after so many years that the trend would be as big as it is today? Especially with the vintage Run-DMC shirts being spotted just about everywhere in the world.
It’s funny, man. I think it was really underground for a lot of years. Probably for like 25 years it remained underground, but in the past two years, even before we started licensing our stuff out, I had some people from Yugoslavia call me up randomly and say, "Yo, D! I’m here in Yugoslavia watching the kids wear your logo shirts." And then a couple of years later, I had people calling me from China telling me, “Yo, D! I'm watching kids wear your logo shirts out here!”
So about three years ago we hooked up with Bravado, who does all of the rock merch, and when we approached them, we asked, “Would you mind working with us?” and they said to us, “Are you crazy? Everywhere we go we see the shirts.” I like the fact that the whole Run-DMC logo and presence influenced a lot of people and I’m talking about even designers who work in fashion and styling because whether it be the leather pants, the Adidas shoes, tracksuits or hats. They recognized us for all that flavor we brought to the table, so that stuff will never go out of style because it was there before we made it popular. That’s the key thing.
You have all these fashion brands and sneaker companies in 2016 partnering up with several hip-hop artists. Did you ever think that hip-hop was going to be so accepted by people in the fashion industry?
Well, you gotta think about it. Even though we were young kids, we put together outfits with whatever was at our disposal. We had no idea that what we were doing. At the time we were just like, “Yo, I gotta get me the red stripe Adidas to go with my red pants to go with my red shirt and my red hat and I gotta wear the red Cazals." When you look back at that, we didn’t know whatever we was doing to make ourselves feel good was actually designing.
We were in design school without having to take any courses but we had no idea of that and what gave us the idea that we were on to something was when we started to see our influence in fashion week. When we started to see our influence when Tommy Hilfiger came along and these other guys started stealing the Urban culture ideas to build their big companies. We didn’t realize that they were doing that. So we could’ve been doing this, but its humbling in the fact that if y’all regarded as one of the creators of something that means you should carry your life, your style, your vibe and your presence that way for eternity because things is going to change. Better things is gonna come, but something that is real and innocent will always be there!
So what's next for D.M.C.? Can we expect new music from you?
I'm getting ready to put out an album. I have a single ["Flames"] that’s out right now on YouTube. We put put out a YouTube video dealing with all the shootings that’s going on in America. I mean every week there’s another shooting of White cops killing a Black kid but also of a Black kid killing a Black kid, so collectively we wanted to address the issue of shooting. It’s produced by John Moyer from the rock band Disturbed and it's a duet with D.M.C. and Myles Kennedy, one of the greatest voices in rock and roll.
The whole idea of this song and the album too, is we spend years and years pointing fingers but we never get to a solution so whether it's the White cop shooting a Black kid or the Black kid shooting the black kid, the issue is those triggers being pulled, so the message of this record or the hashtag I should say is #UnnecessaryBullets. In all of the shootings that we seen, those fingers should've never touched a trigger. They didn’t have to shoot anyone in these situations and it took John Moyer, a white boy in a rock group to say, "Yo, let's say something real about this!"
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