DMX is undoubtedly a true hip-hop gem. On the surface it is plain to see. Take the year 1998 for example. Earl Simmons makes his album debut with It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and formally introduces the world to “DMX.” It goes on to sell 5 million copies and debut at number on Billboard’s 200 chart. That alone should solidify a mortal man’s ideal year, but X is no mortal man. Of course not. How can a mortal man make millions barking over some beats? That’s the works of a genius beyond our intellect. The kind that has a spectacular year and miraculously makes it stellar by releasing his second full length LP only 7 months after. Which pushes half a million plus sales the first week to later be certified platinum 4 times. He becomes the first rapper* in history to have two number one albums the same year. The following year only gets better as he releases …And Then There Was X, his best-selling album to date. With his most successful single/music-to-fuck-shit-up- to “Party Up (Up in Here)”. Top 3 moments “Party Up” was referenced by being played or sung: 3) The movie Like Mike, when Tracy and Calvin try out their best DMX impersonations 2) The 2000 NBA Championship Lakers singing it in the locker after beating the Pacers in a 7 game series (4-2) in the hands of Shaq and Kobe 1) The song is featured in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004, which is both, ironically too lit to be on a golfing video game and objective because I really like music being out of place (as you’ll soon realize). Amidst all of X’s accolades that came in those two years and many more after, his greatest contribution to human history will be “Ruff Ryders Anthem.” This track needs no context. It also doesn’t need to be explained. It’s all in the name “RUFF RYDERS ANTHEM” it is an anthem for rough riders. But if it’s context you need then let me tell you a story.
*Can we really label gods like this “rappers?” May I remind you Logic, Hopsin and 21 Savage are also deemed “rappers.” We need new terms.
On a night like any other, I get home late from a long night of drinking. I live in the corner of a some-what busy intersection that is also an accident hot spot. So when I see the corner flooded with cops and rescues it wasn’t to any surprise. I disregarded the commotion and went inside to knockout. Waking up the next day curious I put on the local news (probably for the first time in my life) and immediately see the corner of my house. Turns out, some local douchebag ran the intersection’s stop and crashed a young man in a motorcycle. He died and the aforementioned douchebag survived unscathed because of course. This young man was well-known in the local motorcycle community and some nights later they held a vigil in my corner. The intersection and entire block was shut down with, what I want to say was, the entire local bike community. I paid my respects and joined in time for the moment of silence. After, the song “See You Again” by Wiz was played and to this day, it has been the most tolerable listen of it in recorded human history. All the young man’s crew, family, friends and bystanders (like myself) were teary eyed as the song gradually became about him. The silence and lament grew immense as the track came to an end. Nothing will ever heal the wound. Nothing will ever pick up after the tragic loss. Now, I do not know who was in charge of the music or if, in fact, there was anyone in charge. Maybe it was divine intervention because no mortal man can devise this. A group of 200+ people in my corner and never has it been so quiet as it was for the 15 seconds after “See You Again” ended. Then, when all hope was lost, after those excruciating 15 seconds, “Ruff Ryders” came on. The pendulum swung and the stars aligned, it was a miracle. My corner went wild and hundreds of bikes were revved, thousands of wheelies were popped and millions of tire tracks were left. The anthem gave everyone life after it was so swiftly taken. My corner is no longer my corner. It will never be the same. Thank you DMX and R.I.P young man.