November 30, 2023

Referring to DMX in the past tense is going to hurt for a while.

Here this person was. Sort of an enigma. Who blessed us with his music, his presence, his aura, his slight ignorance and his absolute brilliance. Earl “DMX” Simmons was an icon, who brought this New York City gritty reality to the mainstream with this hyper sonically aggressive flow that could bring even the drunkest person back to life in a club.

DMX was also haunted by demons. Demons that were either inactively ignored or actively punished by the same America that caused them. If DMX’s skin were white, and his demons stemmed from opioids, maybe he would’ve been nurtured and cured. Just maybe. But he wasn’t. And yet, he persevered. He basked in the odds that mounted against him and made himself an icon, even against those odds. But that’s because he was open. Which is something he didn’t need to be. But he did it anyway. Because he was naturally authentic. And that authenticity is why we mourn. Because that kind of authentic, realism is hard to come by. It’s rarely seen on camera or heard in our headphones. But when it is seen and heard, we recognize it. We appreciate it. And that’s why we mourn it when it’s gone.

But even throughout DMX’s life long battle with highs and lows, he reached the summit.

His apex was god-like.

DMX Live @ Woodstock 99 High Def

In 1999, there was Woodstock. I don’t really know how to explain Woodstock. It’s not even an annual event. It’s a “whenever the entire white population feels like getting together” event, or something. I think Black people attend to, but I’m not sure. Like, I’ve never heard a Black person say, “You know what we need to do? Go to Woodstock.” And even if that one Black person says that, would the other Black people be like, “Aight,” or would they be like, “You tripping,” and then the one Black dude who originally brought up the idea would have to just go with his white friends? So let’s take this thesis as fact. If you add up all of the Black people who ended up having to go with their white friends, I would estimate there would at least be like 40 Black people at each Woodstock. I don’t know.

Anyway, DMX performed at Woodstock in 1999. And if you look out at the crowd he was facing while performing, it was literally enough hippies to occupy Westeros, Essos, the House of Bezos, all of it. DMX had more power over white people than Barack Obama had over white people in 2008. Like, Obama ain’t never had a million white people rap lyrics on his command. NEVER. The best he could do was a “Yes, we can!” And even then, that was kind of meh. Nah, DMX had half of Earth’s white population shouting, “Stop! Drop! shut ’em down, open up shop!/Oh! No! That’s how Ruff Ryders roll!”

Like, how many times can an earthling say, “Obama could never,” and really mean it?

DMX cared about people more than he cared about himself. And he showed it time and time again. He prayed for us more than he prayed for himself. He opened up for us, not for him. He was real with us. He knew who he was. And, he wanted to let us know who WE were. He wanted to let us know we are imperfect beings, striving to get better, but will falter. And even while faltering, always keep your faith up; Keep your energy high; And your spirit authentic.

Rest well, Dark Man X.

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

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