A book, a lifetime achievement Grammy, a major anniversary & an SNL cameo were all part of the King of Rock's 2016.
This past weekend, DMC of iconic rap group Run-DMC had a cameo on Saturday Night Live for the celebrated “Jingle Barack” parody of his original iconic Christmas jam “Christmas in Hollis.” It caps off a giant year for the MC from St. John’s University, who also put out a book Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, was honored with a lifetime achievement Grammy, celebrated a decade of helping foster children with his Felix Organization, recorded new music, took part in some major clothing releases and hosted some well received events.
The King of Rock had quite a lot to look back on fondly for his 2016, and we did it in 20 Questions.
My Best Moment of 2016: I got a chance to become a friend and work with Tim Armstrong of Rancid. Just being around this cat is so fulfilling! Great spirit, and the record he gave me was awesome.
My Most Frustrating Moment of 2016: Having to explain to people why I didn’t want a lifetime achievement Grammy. Don’t give me the Lifetime Achievement Award until I’m finished putting my music out. But, then I realized I didn’t have to explain nothing.
How I first found out I was getting a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award: Last year, Run’s manager told my manager that the Grammys want to give us a lifetime achievement award. I [felt] that’s fine and dandy, but not now, I’m not ready for that. A couple months after that, [my manager] told me to look in the paper that said “Run-DMC to receive Lifetime Achievement Award.” Maybe in 2025 I’d be open to that, but I’ve been working on so many things, I wasn’t really open to that.
Most memorable fan interaction of 2016: At a Comic Con I was sitting at my booth with my book, and this little 12-year-old white kid comes over, came up and said “Oh shit! Timmy, come here, it’s the fucking King of Rock! The King of Rock is here at the convention!” It was the cutest, most incredible moment. What caught me was, it wasn’t “DMC” it was “the mother-fucking King of Rock.”
This year rap pioneer Blowfly died. I remember him from: in 1984, before the Run-DMC album was out, someone was playing me him and he was a rapper even before they called it “rap.” I was really young and wondered “Did Kurtis Blow bite his name from Blowfly?”
The biggest difference between touring a book and an album is: A book is more respectable and accepted by the people. When we’re promoting music, we try to convince people to buy something they might not want to buy. The book, you make it, sit it on the table, and people will come over and cautiously move their left hand to start peaking in it. Music you force on people, there’s an attractive freedom with a book.
My favorite response to my book Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide was: “Yo, your book did for me what 20 years of therapy couldn’t do.”
This year I also co-hosted a hip-hop photography exhibit. The best hip-hop photo I saw this year was: Jay Z with a tracksuit on, and all the gold looking like Slick Rick. That shows that this dude is really hip-hop.
My favorite song I recorded this year was: a song with Joan Jett. We did a remake of her song “Reality Mentality” and it only took us one day!
The most challenging collaboration to organize this year was: Sum-41. Soon as we started the collaboration, they had to go on the road. They had a three day window in April, but I wasn’t able to get to LA, then they’ve been on the road forever.
With Raising Hell turning 30 this year, the one thing about that album nobody asks me about is: why we were able to make such a perfect album. When we talk about what’s on it, it’s just the fact that we did it. Nobody asks why were were able to pull it off with so many people also on the rise. We had LL Cool J breathing down our neck, KRS-ONE devouring microphones, Public Enemy, so many singles were dropping left and right, so it was survive or die. Slick Rick’s “La-Di-Da-Di” was everywhere, so when we recorded “Perfection,” we were trying to be Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, but with a drummer.
The Album I couldn't stop playing in 2016: AC/DC’s Back in Black. It’s weird. About four or five years ago I fell in love with “You Shook Me All Night Long.” I listen to classic rock radio and started hearing “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” I’m going to every mom-and-pop around the world looking for “…Pollution,” and after four or five months I can’t find which AC/DC record has it. A month and a half ago I get discouraged, I pick [Back in Black] up and what track is #10? “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”
When not making music in 2016, I spent the most time: sitting and thinking of what music I can make and sitting around eating apple pie and sweets. That’s why I go to the gym, that’s all I eat.
The best comic I read this year was: an issue of The Uncanny Avengers with the old ass Captain America, and Deadpool and Spider-Man going at it. Spider-Man don’t like Deadpool, and Spider-Man’s really jealous because Deadpool is funnier than him.
The Hardest Part About Being a Rapper Today in New York City in 2016 is: the one incident where the police commissioner made a statement that all rappers are thugs.
My Proudest Moment Helping Children with the Felix Organization this year on it’s 10th anniversary was: knowing we’re about to attack City Hall and Capitol Hill, and get our kids within the foster care community get change that our leaders over the past 100 years haven’t been able to get done.
If someone's celebrating Christmas in Hollis this year, I most recommend they check out: 205th Street, across the street from the Park, go check out the Jam-Master Jay Mural. Everyone who comes in who is a fan of hip-hop has to take a picture of it. Then you’ve completed your hip-hop pilgrimage.
One thing I feel everyone should do to better their own mental health is: Wake up in the morning and do the fun thing you’ve always wanted to do, or the fun thing you stopped doing because you’re an adult.
When I first saw the Run-DMC logo incorporated with so many sports teams this year through the deal with Fanatics, I was most struck by: being told our logo was as iconic as McDonald’s or Coca-Cola.
The main goals for DMC to have completed in 2017 by this time next year are: [Getting] the script for the movie and the play about my life story [finished], and more Camp Felixs.
See your favorite artists' best and worsts of the year by visiting our 20 Questions page.