Actually not so much of an oxymoron.
Raised in Jamaica, Queens of NYC, McDaniel felt the same way many Blacks in alt-culture had about their neighborhoods, out of place. His community saturated with mainstream hip hop, gangs, drugs and ghetto mentality, McDaniel did not want to follow what surrounded him and ensnaring the other youths in his neighborhood. He did indeed listen to some hip hop of the time such as Biggie Smalls and Nas but not much. He expressed, “In my community, people tried to be thugs at 10, 14, 15.” McDaniel saw the dead-end aspect that affected his hood and where it stemmed from.
Besides hip hop, McDaniel was exposed to genres for his mother listed to smooth jazz and classics. However, he found his heart in the aggressiveness of punk.
It was a London friend that over in Howard Beach, Queens that introduced him to punk. McDaniel hung out in the Italian dominated neighborhood learning how to skateboard in his early teens.
Around thirteen or fourteen years old, McDaniel grew deeper into punk and so did his look. Black Flag “My War” was his anthem but he was a Black kid in a private Catholic school. Embracing the DIY nature of punk, McDaniel would modify his school uniform and wear a trench coat with combat boots, mimicking his punk friend but the worlds they lived in were very different for he was Black and the friend was White. As expected in any Black alt-circles, McDaniel caught plenty of criticism from the Black community and became an outcast outside the monolith.
McDaniel was about eighteen or nineteen and attending a show he had seen a group of English guys who covered in tattoos but very clean cut and well respected in the club. No one ran into them or disrespected them; they looked like nerds who could rough up anyone. They held McDaniel’s eye but he never went up to speak to any of them…until he saw one walking down the street one day.
Enchanted by the straight edge and clean cut look, McDaniel had approached the man and asked him about his look. The clean-cut looking man replied, “I’m a skinhead” and McDaniel was taken aback. He thought the same thing everyone else did about skinheads: that they were racist and Nazis. Perplexed, McDaniel did some research and listened to a song the clean-cut skinhead had given him titled “Skinhead Moonstomp,” which was a mixture of ska and reggae. McDaniel described being astounded by the beats of the music and decided to dig deeper again.
The first Black skinhead McDaniel met was walking down the street with yellow laces in his boots, in his 40’s and an NYC old guard punk from the ‘80’s. His name was Joe. McDaniel stuck to him strongly and Joe became his mentor. He had straightened up Mc Daniel’s look, which was sorely needed at the time, and gave McDaniel a special piece of advice: “When you see a Black in the alt scene, talk to them. If they’re a freak, make them your friend. Don’t shun them.” It is also from Joe had McDaniel learn about S.H.A.R.P. – Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice – and the NYC chapter although plenty of the original members had dispersed. Joe taught McDaniel the dress code of a Sharp: White laces were for nazi, red laces meant communist, the American flag was always on the right arm, the pins were always precise and the Sharp should always look sharp, never show a sloppy appearance, to name a few.