Long Live X

– e & blkcory

medium.com

Trials and tribulations might be the best way to describe the life DMX (born Earl Simmons) faced. Last week, DMX passed away from complications of a drug overdose. While he faced some highs and lows throughout his life; abuse, homelessness, crime, and addictions, one of the things he will always be renowned for is his music.

DMX, probably the most famous Ruff Ryders member, never bothered himself with reaching number one on the charts or collaborating with trending artists at the time. DMX rarely, if ever, fell into the popular trope of having an R&B singer singing his hooks. DMX sang his own hooks. DMX lived his life true to his art and his form. Hit songs like “Get At Me Dog,” “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem,” and “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” were great records that gave us a view of his perspective on what his world currently resembled. “Slippin” was a song that acknowledges the trauma he faced. DMX, who grew up Jehovah’s Witness, became Christian later in life and released “Lord Give Me A Sign” to describe his connection with God.

The pattern with DMX and his relationship with his music is quite biographic, and most tracks are descriptive to that moment in time in his life. Each album could detail his mindset during the time of recording. DMX might not be the most renowned artist in the industry, but he never shied away from being 100% authentically himself, and that in itself makes him one of the greats.

With DMX’s’ passing, I, as well as a lot of people on social media, remembered when Aaliyah (R&B singer) died in 2001. A posthumous video of her song “I Miss You” was released featuring all her friends and family. A standout was an intro speech from DMX:

Dearest, sweet Aaliyah, I have trouble accepting the fact that you’re gone..so I won’t. It’ll be like..we went for a while without seeing each other. But I can understand why God woulda wanted you close to him, cause you were truly an angel on earth..And in every special way.. I love you, and miss you

And while these are words from DMX, these are now words I believe the world has for DMX.

-e

For those of you that might not be incredibly familiar with his work and in honour of his memory, here are 6 DMX records that the casual fan probably hasn’t listened to but are worth your time.

How’s It Goin’ Down

Honestly, this is probably in my top 3 favourite DMX songs. It might not be the most popular opinion, but this track goes hard. All of you fans that have been singing the hook to “U With Me?” by Drake better recognize who the song pays homage to. This was one of the 90s “girl are you down to slide” anthems. This was the Mr. Steal Your Girl chune* before Trey Songz was doing his thing. This record is special. This is the only guy who put it on wax that if you hit your girl for cheating on you with him, he’ll beat your ass…and he’ll still ask your girl to move his drugs and split the profits with him.

On the strength of you, well, that’s your kid’s daddy
I ain’t gon’ send him on his way, put him up in that big Caddy
But let em know, never mind yo, I need you to go
Take this snow up to 1-5-0, see Joe

You need to hear the record and catch that pause after “let em know”. This guy was in sicko mode long before “Sicko Mode” came out.

Bring Your Whole Crew

Whether you have very real or very imaginary opps*, this is one of them tracks that makes you wanna wild out. Nobody was coming on beats with X’s energy on a track. His presence on these kinds of records brought this aggressive rush that a lot of rappers still don’t have to this day. If this track doesn’t have you feelin’ like they can send anyone at you and you’d be ready for them, then you need to run it back again.

When I’m Nothing

This is one of those DMX records that I still think will cut through at the cookout. Still the same DMX in terms of his delivery and channeling that Yonkers rapper aggression but packaged in a new way. This one is probably one of the few DMX records that you can two-step to. It’s that gritty New York flow but now shorty* doesn’t have to be from the block to feel it. 

Blackout 

This song just feels like 90s hip-hop at its finest. Dark Man X, The Lox (as in Sheek Louch, Styles P and Jadakiss…together as a unit) and Jay-Z (as in the Shawn Carter) on Swizz Beatz (as in the man that brought you Verzus this whole pandemic) production?! You know everyone’s coming through to drop bars because nobody wanted to get dusted* on this beat. None of that mattered once you heard the dog growling though. DMX found a way to not only hold his own but shine through with the most memorable verse on the song. I can only imagine how crazy the energy in the studio must have been when this song was recorded. 

Dogs For Life 

This is some ride or die for ya mans music. A song full of sentimental and introspective takes on his beliefs about who he is as a person and what he feels love for your friend is supposed to look like. It’s a song that reflects on prior stories with the people he came up with and their bond. A song about a type of loyalty that is hard to find these days. While I’m here I just want to say that Dame Grease did what he was supposed to do when he made this beat. You gotta rate* it!

Slippin’ 

I almost didn’t put this record on this list as it feels entirely different now that DMX has passed, but the storytelling is too good to not to talk about it. This was actually the lead single for Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood but I don’t think it really got the mainstream popularity it deserved. This song is about the relatable story of DMX’s life and how he constantly fell on troubled times, acknowledged some of the trauma he faced in life and found the willpower to get up and try again even when he stumble. In the hook, he goes on to say:

Ayo, I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I can’t get up
Ayo, I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up

The hook is so simple and catchy, but as he chants it in repetition, you realize that even those that we look to as an example of success go through their own trials & tribulations. Also, I’m not sure if he has royalties in Life Alert but their slogan isn’t too far off from this hook…

Long Live Dark Man X! I’m happy he got his flowers while he was living.

-blkcory

Glossary:

chune – tune, song
shorty – a woman you are courting or dating
dusted – to be embarrassed (in this context)
rate – respect or appreciate

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