Why DMX Was A Real One
I’m not attempting to compete with the incoming avalanche of essays that will serve as fitting tributes to one of the best to ever do it, while sincerely wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Emotions are running high and hearts are heavy over the profound loss of iconic rapper and culture shifter Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, who tragically left this world at the age of 50, after going into cardiac arrest that left him on life support.
When the news about his hospitalization and coma went viral, I was immediately transported to that time when my brother and I ran into the beloved rapper at a local mall in New Jersey back in the early 2000s.
I can still hear the excitement in my brother’s voice, once he spotted one of his idols and the randomness of his sighting encouraged him to make his move. I didn’t walk over with him, mainly because I was slightly intimidated and also as the big sister, I wanted my little brother to have his special moment.
Watching from afar I could tell that things were working out exactly how any starstruck fan would envision a chance meeting with a superstar, who helps to shape those impressionable years.
My brother’s gleaming face lit his footsteps back to me, and as we walked in the opposite direction, he couldn’t stop raving about how gracious and disarmingly chill DMX was, almost like the cool big brother he wished he had.
We both sadly recalled that memorable episode minutes after we received the unfathomable confirmation of yet another legendary staple’s untimely transition at a time when these shocking announcements are trumpeting with uneasy frequency.
I’m not a music critic or an expert at cohesively packaging the immense contributions of the blessed few, who chose the right eras to deposit the gems that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
But my lucky exposure to the best of the best during a time when Gen Xers were dominating a vibrantly prolific scene, populated with back-to-back hits that would beat anything considered recent to a massy pulp, definitely helped refine my taste buds — and innovative artists like DMX played a vital role in my development.
DMX was a real one, which is why true artists with organic tendencies are never really gone.
Just like the greats who departed before him, social media is overflowing with storied clips featuring the lovable New York-bred rap god, showcasing mad skills as a potently engaging performer, who was born to grasp the global spotlight. Other tributes poignantly expose the humanized version of a doting father, softly consoling his young daughter before they take off in an imposing rollercoaster.
And then there’s the one from the Verzuz battle with Snoop Dogg that was staged just last year, where the two icons indulged in the blessings of surviving the turbulence of youthful pursuits in an unforgiving industry, that couldn’t prevent the bloody fates of their less fortunate and equally talented counterparts.
For me, it’s the revealing clips that serve as evidence of why DMX never stopped searching for the peace and resolve he knew he deserved, through the unwavering belief in the Lord his God, who let him down the same way I was let down as a child harboring a traumatized past.
My spiritual journey is more complicated than the praise worship background I was subjected to as a lonely youngster, who was lost in the abyss of mental desolation from not being mature enough to properly assess my debilitating symptoms, stemming from a blasphemous attack against body and soul.
My wellbeing was scorched when I happened upon a triggering clip of DMX tearfully speaking in the shaky voice, and on behalf of the young shattered boy he was, at the fateful moment when everything changed, after the mentor he trusted like a big bro traitorously weaponized that bond and the innocence that bore it.
DMX was a real one because he wasn’t afraid to surrender his artistry to every inch of his genius and its ancestral creation. Searing pain and the bravery of keeping those valves open for the unfiltered purity that encompasses the daunting blueprint of life’s journey was the only way he could honestly show up and show out with no apologies.
His torturous battles with long-term addiction was a sorrowful backdrop to the stunningly vulnerable human being, who valiantly persevered with the signature brand of that melodiously raspy voice ,and the incomparable library of hits that didn’t dilute the relatable image depicting what it looks like when you fight back with all your might — each and every swing.
“Like the devil that wants me to lie till I die.”
DMX was a real one because he wasn’t afraid in the same way that mere mortals fear what will happen if there’s a slight hint of the dreaded fallibility that has evolved into the phenomenon of haughty intolerance, that aims to cripple the creative expressions of those who don’t subscribe to the mandated extremes.
His life was an open book filled with pages that have been relentlessly rewritten, and for that he was always free, and never smothered under the burden of projecting what he couldn’t afford to pander for the fleetingness of adulation and empty gift bags for sellouts.
As a writer, who has claimed to lead with authenticity, I’ve spent the last few months retreating into the God-forbidden fortress of my gloomy history, that I’ve shamefully used as the crutch to validate the questionable chapters that can’t continue to remain infected.
You won’t truly claim your manifestation if you can’t even nurture the ugliness of attachments that can either breathe through the acknowledgment of what you can awaken for the nourishment of yourself and others, or it can erode your chances for greatness and construct a living tomb for your victimhood.
True artists are never gone, and as we currently embody an era where so few manage to prove their artistic invincibility, it’s unbearably sad when these irreplaceable losses transpire in ways that confirm why the best of times can’t be replicated.
But that’s why we have to be grateful for the enviable resilience and immeasurable love that DMX possessed and so generously served without any reservations.
His humanness came with the emotional transparency that transfixed anyone who paused long enough to take in the splendor of a magnificent being.
He beautifully rearranged his broken pieces into the reflective collage that will continue to be a wondrous wall of jewels that historically dazzle with each passing decade into the future.
DMX was absolutely a real one, and rare too.
For creatives like me, who have spent what was supposed to be the best years of our lives, hiding under the hood of damned reinventions that ultimately bring us back to where it all began, it’s a heavy lesson that discloses why outrunning our demons is the impossible task.
But he truly tried his hardest, in every way imaginable, and our forever gratitude and abiding loyalty to a prophetic culture shifter is solid proof of those courageous efforts.
We hear it said more times than we can count, but this time it’s for real:
Legends. Never. Die.