Beloved rapper/actor/philanthropist DMX passed away last Friday at the tender age of 50. After a week-long battle in the hospital, family, friends—and the entire hip hop community said goodbye to the New York rapper.
It’s difficult to write about someone that the world is attached to artistically when you know the person’s heart and kindness surpasses their own talent. In 2019, I wrote about my friendship with Dark Man X. When someone passes, you immediately think of moments, conversations and experiences you’ve shared with them. Anyone who’s met Earl Simmons can relate but if you’ve spent time with him—you definitely have a story or ten.
When I first heard about his passing, these moments came to mind. All before the fame. From the two of us always trekking through Harlem on foot, to driving down 125th while he tells me his plan to take over the world. From him rapping on the street in the back of the Mart 125 to standing next to him in the booth while he laid vocals that would later become classics. Whether we were talking about life, family or hopping out of Harlem cabs, there was never a dull moment with D.
I had to leave social media for a few days because the images and stories brought me to tears. Swizz broke it down the best. DMX always knew he was troubled but put his troubles aside to help everyone else. He would give you the shirt off your back and I witnessed this many times. He also helped me in many ways and vice versa. He respected my ear and knowledge of hip hop and that’s where we bonded. One day he came to my job (with his dog) rushing me to finish up in front of my customer.
“Yo!” He shouted loudly. “Meet me in the back when you’re done.” I always said 10 minutes but knew it would be longer. He waited impatiently checking in every 5 minutes until I was done 30 minutes later. “Why you always yelling in front of my customers?” I asked him annoyed. “Because you always say that 10 minute s*** and I know you be lying.”
We laughed and walked all the way to Madison and 127th street. “I know a spot over here I’m gonna put you on to…” he said as I followed him and his dog. We walked down the stairs to the basement of a dilapidated building as he knocked on a hole in the wall. “You got the lambsbread?” At that moment a cardboard paper slid out with 8 different bags of marijuana on it. A menu of some sorts. “Let me get 2 lambsbread and 2 chocolate tye.” He handed the menu back with some cash. Four bags popped out the wall and we were out.
“I gotta go to the studio in Yonkers, you wanna roll? I gotta meet Grease there.” Dame Grease was a producer from Harlem and one of D’s bestfriends. We often hung out together. Grease became my family too. He would pop into my job on his bike with a bag of trees for me and it would make my day. Quiet, reserved and talented…Grease always made the best darkest and scariest beats. He was my favorite producer and I loved listening to him and D create. I would listen and make suggestions which normally artists don’t like but they both seemed to be curious about what I thought as well.
That night we went to Powerhouse Studios which was still under construction at that time. When we pulled up, rappers Mase and The Lox were there. At that time, Mase and The Lox were already signed to Bad Boy Records and D was working on It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot. I can’t remember how this happened but someone turned a beat on and the most incredible rhyming session occurred–unrecorded. I had a front seat to what would become the beginning of an era. Murder Mase was on his hardcore Harlem tip and The Lox were on their street rhymes— but D went hard. He wouldn’t stop rhyming. Bars on bars on bars and he kept going. The intensity, the passion, the hunger and the talent…it was undeniable. I sat there in a cloud of weed smoke and I knew that the hip hop game would never be the same.
Even at the height of his career he peeped me standing on the side of the stage. “Courtney?! What up!”….
We won’t ever forget you Dark Man X…thank you for all you have given us.