Darryl McDaniels Admits Run DMC Was Intimidated By Steven Tyler

Teaming up with an iconic rock star might frighten anyone. For numerous reasons, when Run-DMC was about to get into the studio with Aerosmith and Steven Tyler, things felt a bit complicated for Darryl McDaniels. Recently, while chatting with Classic Rock, McDaniels discussed how the collaboration took place in the first place and why working with Steven was intimidating.

“Before rap records were made, we used to have to find beats to rap over, and ‘Walk This Way’ was one of our favorites,” told DMC, recalling how did they come to use the Aerosmith hit during rapping sessions. “There’s something about ‘Walk This Way’ when the DJ threw that on; the beat was so cool, the way those guitars came in. And then, the DJ would cut it back to the start of the beat.”

After hearing the duo’s rapping to the beat, the team-up idea came from producer Rick Rubin. Darryl revealed, “We were in the studio one day looping the beat, and Rick Rubin walks in. He’s like, ‘Yo, do you know what that is?’ And Jay and I were like, ‘Yeah, that’s ‘Toys In The Attic.’ We didn’t know the group; we just went off with what was on the cover. He was like, ‘This is Aerosmith, ‘Walk This Way.” He was giving us the 411 on Aerosmith.”

However, Run-DMC was hesitant when Rubin suggested re-doing the song with the other band. DMC noted, “Me and Run were like, ‘You’re taking this rock-rap sh*t too far; you’re going to ruin us. That’s going to be fake; nobody in hip-hop is going to like it.’ But he persuaded Jay and me to sit down and listen to the lyrics, so we put the needle on the record. When Steven Tyler opened his mouth, we got on the phone: ‘Y’all motherf*ckers, we’re going to be ruined!’ We had this big argument.”

So, with no enthusiasm, the duo got into the studio. The singer recalled, “We went into the studio and laid down a weak version because we didn’t want to do the record and left. Eight hours later, we get a call to come back to the studio. We walk in, and Joe Perry is playing his riff, Steven Tyler is in the booth doing the lyrics.”

Upon seeing the Aerosmith stars, the duo was intimidated by their talent. DMC explained, “I and Run knew we had to step our game up. Jay was like, ‘Yo, don’t think of the record as ‘Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s record,’ think of those lyrics as Run-DMC lyrics.’ So we went in the booth, and that went so good that Steven said, ‘Yo, let me get in with y’all.’”

So, in the end, even though the duo wasn’t into the team-up at first, the re-do of the song was a major commercial success and took its proper place as one of the most iconic collaborations of the rap and rock scenes. So, maybe, we should thank Rubin for introducing this collab into the music industry.