Last week I made a tweet that said, basically, those of us who grew up while DMX was releasing new music, we have a different connection to him. Of course, it's popular to talk about an artist's work after he passes away. However, I think my insight on the life and death of DMX is a bit more personal for a few reasons.
Reason number 1, his poetry.
As a hip hop artist and writer myself, I always felt a deeper connection to DMX and his expressions. I'd argue that there is no other artist in the history of music with as much passion behind every word and syllable as DMX had. Many of his songs can be used as an example to support this argument, but my personal favorite is "Slippin". There is also a piece that he did on the TV show 'Def Poetry' that I felt a deeper connection to as he was talking being an outsider within the music industry.
Reason number 2, his story.
DMX is from Yonkers, NY which is the same place my mother grew up when her parents emigrated from the Cape Verdean Islands. I enjoyed visiting Yonkers for many reasons, but one thing I can remember is looking at the streets thinking "this is where DMX became a dog". Between his adolescent and teenage years, DMX battled many troubles which he was very transparent about in his career. During that time he didn't have many friends nor family and instead he befriended stray dogs around Yonkers. He fed them, took care of them, and showed them unconditional love which he explained, the dogs would also give him back. Obviously, they also became the influence for the signature of his career that would make his voice 'one of one' in music.
Reason number 3, his unapologetic faith.
On every DMX album, he included several prayers that were personal to him. His interviews sometimes sounded as if he was preaching. Before and after his concerts he would pray. There may be just as many videos of him praying as there are of him rapping. I've heard many stories from artists who worked with DMX who said their favorite moment with him, that they'll never forget, is his passionate group prayers.
There is a story my parents use to tell us when we were young about a woman who lived as a prostitute, but she cared for a stray animal and that good deed was enough to warrant GOD's mercy. In Islam, this story is an authenticated Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The story draws a strong comparison to DMX's life.
DMX lived a life of superstar highs and rock bottom lows but it seems as if he always had faith. Not the Faith who is featured on the song 'Slippin' (which I didn't know was her till recently) but the faith you need to survive what he endured and still smile. That's unwavering and unapologetic faith and regardless of your religion or beliefs, I think we all can learn something from that.
I know I did.