McDaniels grew up in New York. He attended Catholic schools , and later enrolled in St. John's University in New York City.
McDaniels first became interested in hip hop music after listening to recordings of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. In 1978, McDaniels taught himself to DJ in the basement of his adopted parents' home, using turntables and a mixer given to him by his older brother, Alford. During this period he adopted the stage name "Grandmaster Get High".
Later that year, McDaniels sold his DJ equipment, after his friend Joseph "Run" Simmons acquired his own turntables and mixer. After Jam-Master Jay--who had a reputation as the best young DJ in Hollis joined the group—Run encouraged McDaniels to rap rather than DJ. Gradually, McDaniels came to prefer rapping to mixing records, and adopted the nickname of "Easy D". In 1981, he dropped the "Easy D" moniker in favor of "DMcD", the way he signed his work in school, and then to the shorter "D.M.C.". D.M.C. alternately stood for "Devastating Mic Controller" or his nickname since childhood, "Darryl Mac".
In 1984, the trio released their self titled, debut album and than became very successful in the hip-hop industry. The group's success continued to grow and reached its peak with their third album Raising Hell. The album went to #6 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making Run-D.M.C. the most popular hip-hop group at the time.
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