For those who are not attuned to rap, hip/hop the o.g.’s of the game then perhaps you’ve overlooked a great. His songs were meshed with prophetic genius of a hard childhood and mistrust of the adults around him. It’s this hard childhood that made him the warrior he became. A fighter, a hardcore ruff ryder. His roar and growl were his own signature touch that will never be done in this manner again and if anyone dares attempts to replicate it will certainly fall short of the legend’s exemplary sound.
DMX had a roar so intense, so provocative that catapulted him to stardom over night. And the irony of his growl like voice came from rolling and befriending actual stray dogs in his Yonker neighborhood we’re many a nights he’d sleep in Salvation Army clothing bins while befriending stray dogs that urged his creative sound.
He suffered abuse at the hands of his mother – sharing emotionally in an interview how she had knocked two of his teeth out with a broom stick at age 6. The beatings would continue. His father absent from his life except for a rear occasion DMX leaned on other men. One in particular, a father figure he described him, a male role model he idolized passed him a joint laced with cocaine when he was only 14 years old.
Disheartened at the experience and lead to further to trust no one DMX began paving a way of healing through songs. He would write out his pain of abuse and mistrust, in his lyrics that overshadowed the traumas of his past.
DMX AND WHEN I CAME TO LOVE HIM
His Ruff Ryders Anthem was a salute to his dogs on the east coast and an ode perhaps to the estranged dogs he’d met on the streets while dodging his abusive up bringing.
The song has special meaning and holds a special and even nostalgic time in my life.
I was interning for Sway, yes, that Sway, the famous – real Sway at KMEL when this song came out. Ok, dating myself a little with these details, but it’s ok. Sway loved this song and would blare it on the sound system in studio B at his sound board as soon as he would walk in. I laid out all his decks for him, for each hour of the show and this was when DMX first roared onto the scene. Sway loved the song and I did too.
There is a visceral rawness to this anthem for those of us who grew up in this era. We had never heard anything like this, the voice, the edginess, the realness.
Born Earl Simmons the visceral edginess he brought to the world along with prophetic lyrics that tell a dark truth of what lay underneath the mind of an original.
Genius is the dictionary means – exceptionally intellectual or creative power or other natural ability. DMX was that.
His sound was raw, cutting edge, different. His lyrics telling, sad, and told his own story.
Unfortunately being exposed to drugs at a young age lead him down a dark path of drug abuse, one he battled for the rest of his life. He spent time in and out of rehab.
Even Iyanla was there at one point to set him back straight – however it appears he is high during his initial sit down with her.
MY SECOND MOST FAVORITE DMX SONG
While this DMX hit was not his most popular I believe it was his greatest. The rhythm, the melodic chorus, the roar – even more prevalent it seemed.
So as a tribute to one of my all time favorite artists – in honor of the legacy and body of work he leaves behind, I leave you with this.
DO IT WITH HEART
DMX wore his heart on his sleeve. He survived insurmountable abuse and neglect along with betrayal by the adults in life from the time he was a child. He continued on. He showed us his heart in his lyrics. We heard the pain in his roar. And irrespective of the tragic hard life he lived and fought to survive he continued. He never gave up.
He used his hardships as badges of courage and bravery. He wrote about it. He rapped about it. He talked about it. He overcame so much, but his heart remained soft irrespective of the rough sound. True DMX fans the world over know the humility with which he rose to stardom and the battle that ultimately took his life.
In the end he won. He gave us so much, songs to dance to, rap to, jam to.
His greatness was perhaps not even his music, but who he was as a human being. He lived from his heart. He would cry on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. He felt humbled by the fame and struggled to let go of the trauma of his tainted past.
And we should learn from the bravery and courage he voiced through his music and in his words. His life was not easy, but he did not give up. He struggled into adulthood, but continued to create art and share himself and his heart with the world.
Many do not know that DMX did not flash around in big gold chains and fancy cars. And he donated millions to charity in private.
He didn’t need attention for it. He did it because he could, he had a big heart and money, but already had the fame so didn’t need praise from others.
He received plenty of praise from millions for his artistic genius. He had a big heart and a past he could not heal or recover from it. And that very past was inevitably took his life.
Rest In Power Dark Man X. You left behind some good art. Thank you.