The phenomenon that is DMX only happens once in two lifetimes. He stood as the voice for those who didn’t have one and was the hope for the hopeless. We understood his pain and listened as he bared his soul and went to war with his demons. When he made it to the top we celebrated…no matter how many times he fell we encouraged him to get back up. We continued to root for the dog.
To me, DMX reigns as Michael Jackson status. Before some of you sensitive folks get in your feelings let me explain why I say this. I first saw X in concert when I was 15. It was him, Drag-On, A+ and Slick Rick. It was a well-known street cat from around my way who was paralyzed. Everybody in the crowd froze in silence like “yo, is that him?” Of course it wasn’t but then in the next blink, the DJ said “y’all ready for the dog?” The crowd electrified in screams while the “Intro” beat from ‘It’s Dark and Hell is Hot‘ started and you could feel the anticipation.
Next thing you know you heard “1,2 1,2 come through run through” and Crown Coliseum went ballistic. I’ve never seen anything like it, the energy was crazy. When X hit the stage and performed “How’s It Goin Down,” he threw his towel in the crowd and a girl I went to school with caught it, fainted, and had to be carried out. X stopped the show and said “Yo, yo, hold up. Who got my towel? I don’t want no nigga with my sweat!” Someone must’ve said a girl got it… “A female got it, aight cool”, and kept rocking. When X performed “Slippin” I witnessed grown ass men right beside the women in tears. That coliseum was packed and he even had that whole coliseum praying. All that in itself makes DMX Michael Jackson status to me.
X is hands down one of the rawest writers to date. Hip Hop was going through a lot of changes once B.I.G. and 2Pac were gone. No Limit started its run which in turn opened the door for the south on a mainstream and Puff was running radio. You couldn’t travel 30 minutes without hearing “eh, eh, and we won’t stop cause we can’t stop.” It’s almost like X said “fuck all that lets take it back to the streets.” Any feature X was on pretty much was his song. “4, 3, 2, 1” with LL Cool J, “24 Hours to Live” with Ma$e, “Shut em’ Down” with Onyx, “Money Power and Respect” with fellow Yonkers legends The LOX… There weren’t any features X did that he didn’t shine on.
X started a movement. It was cool to make grimy records again. You didn’t have to make a club banger or love songs or even radio records unless you wanted to. 1998 was Jay Z‘s breakthrough year, but X owned 1998 by far with two number one platinum albums and a motion picture film. To this day I don’t think anyone else in Hip Hop has accomplished that. From my understanding they wanted Hov to play Tommy Buns originally, and speaking of Hov I really hate we never got that Murder Inc album with Jay, DMX and Ja Rule. Judging from “Murdergram,” “It’s Murda” and “Time to Build,” it would have been an instant classic. Lets add Mic Geronimo back and that would’ve been Slaughterhouse before Slaughterhouse… On topic, but off topic. Let me state for the record I know we crack jokes on Ja Rule, but truth be told he actually wasn’t as bad as we made him out to be after that 50 Cent bullshit.
Ruff Ryders are a prime example of striking when the iron is hot. That Double R run gave us Eve and Drag-On, let The LOX make music they wanted, and gave us one of the most iconic producers in Hip Hop, Swizz Beatz. “Ruff Ryders Anthem” still gets play today like it just dropped, fresh out the studio. X said he felt he was the best to ever do it and by far has definitely made that case. 74 million albums sold, five number one albums, and an extensive resume of classic verses that could wrap around Madison Square Garden double time. His sixth album ‘Year of the Dog‘ went to number 2 on Billboard 200. If that’s what you call a flop I’ll take it hands down.
There was something about X fans and fellow rappers couldn’t get enough of. He was down to earth and was seen in hoods with no security, and spotted cooking and cleaning in iHop’s and other restaurants! Not many rappers I know of can do or express any interest in doing so. X was a genuine person who didn’t hide who he was and that’s why he was admired and loved.
Listening to his music you can say X was definitely a prophet. He knew he didn’t have much time here and knew he had to leave his mark and influence. It’s safe to say, mission accomplished. Songs like “Fame” hit different now that he’s no longer with us in the physical with lines like, “Now if I take what he gave me and I use it right / In other words if I listen and use the light / Then what I say will remain here after I’m gone / Still here on the strength of a song I live on…” If that doesn’t sound like someone who knows they have purpose and very limited time then I don’t know what is. The Damian Saga not only shows the brilliance of his storytelling but brought to light his internal fight of good and evil amongst all of us. Recently I read an article where a woman said, it’s because of DMX she was able to forgive her father who died from alcohol addiction after she had a conversation with X about forgiveness. I’ve spoken to people who told me X’s prayers stopped them from committing suicide. These are probably two stories out a million. So, with that being said I dont give a fuck about his shortcomings or mistakes. That man made a difference in countless people’s lives and with millions he never met.
I remember a saying that goes “they’ll yell out your failures and whisper your victories.” X is definitely a clear example of that quote. Instagram posts/stories tend to highlight his drug addictions, allegations of domestic violence, and being a neglective father. However, it was very clear at his funeral he was a phenomenal father who loved and adored all his children and they loved and adored him the same. Make sure when you bring up his shortcomings that you mention how he donated money to churches, his visits to group homes (including the one he was sent to) and countless other community causes he participated in and organized…. Make sure you talk about the man who donated to 9/11 victims and who adopted two children as his own… Make sure you talk about the man who could have easily hung out with the rich and famous but would rather hang with the common folk and give them words of inspiration. That’s why he could walk through the roughest blocks and have no problem.
Earl Simmons will be celebrated by the culture forever. Not just for his music legacy, but for being an amazing human. On the prayer he said, “he hears what he said won’t be heard until he’s gone,” I disagree, X .We heard you loud and clear and they will hear you forever. Rest Well Dog.