Man do I hate starting out sentences this way, but rest in peace to DMX, rap icon who wielded the most unwieldy mix of bravado, raw intensity, heart-on-his-sleeve vulnerability and demonic horror in some great and idiosyncratic music. He seemed to appear to us already on top, shocking the world with a completely new sound and cadence. The growls, the chants, the gothic organs, the kids chanting about DMX like he’s Freddy, the catchy anthems that still get our hearts pumping today. But underneath it a sense of sincere anguish and struggle.

In his almost 25 years of music and public life he seemed to always be running from demons, on the brink of possible disaster, yet it feels impossible that they finally caught up with him. From the beginning he talked about pain and fear, he covered himself in blood on an album cover, talked about Hell, gave literal voice to his darkest thoughts, prayed to (and conversed with) God, read sad poems. But he was also known for having fun – praising his friends, driving around on four-wheelers doing wheelies and donuts (a trademark!), boasting, being funny.

And of course he had an action movie period! He just happened to be on the top at the right time to intersect with Joel Silver’s action-star-with-rappers-and-R&B-singers period. So he co-starred with Jet Li and Steven Seagal in roles where he just seemed like DMX, even if his character was, like, a hacktivist. I love that kinda shit – his screen presence was more exciting to me than good acting would’ve been – but he showed much more potential in BELLY, the one movie directed by music video legend Hype Williams. Not everything about the movie works, but it looks absolutely incredible, makes numerous interesting artistic choices and really does harness that raw DMX charisma in a powerful way.

I was so hyped for NEVER DIE ALONE, where he was the lead and stretching himself more, adapting a book by Donald Goins. It didn’t turn out to be what I hoped for at the time, and everyone else seemed to ignore it (though I have since seen it discovered and enjoyed by a few people). Like for most movie star type performers there was kind of a decline in quality, and he was content to just show up in random DTV movies on occasion, more cashing in on his name and face than finding good roles. And that’s fine. I can respect that. His heart was on the mic. Why not also play “Davie” in FAST AND FIERCE: DEATH RACE? I’m sure it was fun.

It was long known that he struggled with addiction and mental health issues that got him into reckless and inexplicable misadventures, but in recent years he appeared to have settled down a little. It seemed like the guy who on his first album said, “And I fear that what I’m saying, won’t be heard until I’m gone / But it’s all good, ’cause I really didn’t expect to live long” was aging into an old legend. Last year I watched him on that Verzuz with Snoop Dogg and it was electric to see the two of them celebrating each others’ life’s work, gushing over each other, dancing around like total dorks.

It made me so happy to watch them like that I actually tried to take some live screengrabs to capture the vibe:

DMX had a belly like a retiree and seemed so humble and flattered, being self-deprecating, almost bashful about the compliments. I hope he was able to enjoy it and really understand how much the world loved him.

Here are my old reviews of some of his movies. They’re not my best or most respectful work. I’ve been thinking about revisiting the Jet Li American period, so maybe I’ll do them more justice next time.


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25 Responses to “R.I.P. DMX”

  1. I’m not gonna lie: When DMX first came out, I thought him and his whole crew were the worst. I thought their production was corny as fuck and none of ’em could spit. It was right during the fuckin’ Shiny Suit Era, when I went from a kid who listened to nothing but hip-hop to a man who went like four years without buying a new hip-hop album. As rap slowly but unrelentingly devolved into the stagnant swamp of sub-Bone Thugz vocal mush that it has become today, I slowly developed more of an affinity for the sellout hackwork of that era. That Ruff Ryderz sound I hated back then sounds like fuckin’ THE LOW END THEORY compared to the shit that’s come since. Then I had to read his autobiography for work, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t like and respect him as a person after that. His music is still not my favorite (though I can’t front: “Bring Your Whole Crew” is a motherfucking ANTHEM) but he was definitely what the kids would call “a real one.” He was what he was, warts and all, and he put it all on record. It’s taken more than 20 years but I can now admit that hip-hop was better off with DMX in it.

  2. I’m mostly out of my element here, but even I loved X Gonna Give It To Ya. And of course I enjoyed his run of action movies, some of the few bright spots in a weak period for the genre. Didn’t see NEVER DIE ALONE but wanted to, I remember Ebert championed it. Surprisingly he and Seagal reteamed a few years ago in something called BEYOND THE LAW, though lord knows if they share any actual screentime (looks like it’s on YouTube if you’re curious). Anyways, R.I.P.

  3. I have a weekly email I send out to a few hundred people; it’s mostly about avant-garde jazz, death metal, and modern classical music, but I started off this week’s edition writing about DMX. Here’s what I said (last night, before the announcement of his death was official):

    I’ve spent more time than you might expect thinking about DMX this week. He was (yeah, I’m speaking of him in the past tense, because I don’t believe in miracles) a truly singular figure in hip-hop — in popular culture — and his impact has never been properly assessed. The rappers I loved, back when I paid serious attention to hip-hop (roughly 1986-1993), were authoritative men with forceful, emphatic voices: Chuck D. Ice-T. Rakim. Big Daddy Kane. Schoolly D. Guru. KRS-One. They were funny sometimes, but more often they were deadly serious, engaged with the world. DMX was like that, but different. He was the next evolution of that style, and he was amazing.

    DMX released his first two albums, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, in May and December 1998. Each debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts, as did the three albums after that (1999’s …And Then There Was X, 2001’s The Great Depression, and 2003’s Grand Champ). That alone was a feat unique not just in hip-hop history, but in music overall. But beyond his commercial achievements, DMX’s contributions to hip-hop as an art form set him apart. His lyrical style combined hyper-violent fantasy, casting him sometimes as a drug dealer, sometimes as some kind of stealthy super-assassin, with genuine emotional torment and even self-loathing. Again, his fourth album was called The Great Depression, and his albums ended with long a cappella prayers for forgiveness. There was a strong element of fatalism and despair even in his most violent lyrics; he almost always portrayed himself as having been pushed to violence by others’ provocations or betrayals. It wasn’t “I’m a gangsta and I’m gonna kill you,” it was, “Why wouldn’t you just stop fucking with me? Now I have to kill you.”

    He’s often caricatured as one-dimensional; people make fun of his hoarse, drill-sergeant cadences and the times when he literally barks like a dog. But in fact, his verses were extraordinarily complex, structured like Shakespearean monologues performed by a jazz poet — the punch lines and rhymes always seemed to hit just one beat off, bouncing like a football hitting the ground. And yet, at the same time, his songs had big, anthemic choruses. This extraordinarily dark music was designed to double your heart rate and make you want to punch your head through the wall, and it did exactly that. Ma href=”

    The Tethered: DMX’s Emotional Legacy at 20

    Evan McGarvey explores several generations worth of art, trauma, and personal remembrances through the work of the Yonkers rap legend.

    “>This Evan McGarvey piece from 2019 explains his brilliance at greater length than I’m going to do here. DMX was one of the best to ever do it. Respect is due.

  4. RIP DMX. Although I’ll refrain from any hypocritical “But On Hindsight…” back-pedaling to still unequivocally state his “trio” of martial arts actioners still represent for me, a deplorably low point for the genre, that mercifully brief window of time when pairing a legit martial artist with a hip-hop star seemed like a good idea.

    Hip Hop isn’t big where I come from, but as someone who marinated in HK Cinema and 80s Action Flicks, trying to sell me the idea that DMX could go toe to toe with likes of Jet Li and Seagal seemed condescending as fuck.

    But 50 is too early for anyone to check out, so wherever he is, here’s hoping he’s at peace with all demons laid mercifully to rest.

  5. I just remembered that I did a remix of “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” last year using the DEADPOOL score. So now it serves as my tribute to a guy I didn’t appreciate in his time.

  6. Mr. M, that is dope

  7. Thanks, Ben!

  8. Reading Mr. Majestyk’s post is funny cause I too was disallusioned with rap by that point. I hated the shiny suit shit I appreciate it more in retrospect but I was out off by how much it commercialized the mafioso type raps that were the rage until then to the point of corniness.

    The only albums I bumped in ’97 were Wu-Tang Forever, When Disaster Strikes and The Carnival. I barely fucked with Life After Death cause it was chockful of that shit and Jay-Z’s 2nd album which I now consider one of his best felt victim to the same shit.

    DMX along with Big Pun is what brought the grime back to NYC. The moment I heard the intro to his first album I knew this was something that was more my gear. Then later on that year he dropped the 2nd joint and just solidified that hard shit was back on the menu.

    I saw this interview with him on Drink Champs a couple months back. Thinking back on it it was the perfect last interview and I encourage anybody who liked him to check it out. He said some reflective and profound shit including that if he died that day he’d die knowing he lived a good life. It’s not too often that you see somebody from where I come from (NYC ghettos) overcome all the type of demons this man faced. Even though he didn’t come out unscathed for a man who at one point many didn’t think would see 30 to live to at least see 50 was a blessing.

    If that shit I read about Jay and Beyonce buying his catalogue masters to give it to all his kids to break bread among themselves is true it’s also a testament to the impact he had even on his peers life. Everybody knows how instrumental DMX was to Jay-Z becoming Jay-Z. That act says a lot and I respect it.

    DMX brought me back into hip hop and I haven’t felt back out of love with it since. Matter of fact I have found my true calling within it since then and for that I will always be thankful. R.I.P. to the dawg.

  9. I meant to also say its funny to think someone thought that swizz beatz sound sounded like mickey mouse shit. To us it was actually refreshing. At least it wasn’t hacked up 80s pop samples. Thinking of ’97 The War Report was another one that kept the real going. I actually credit that for opening the lane for DMX and Pun to come through and just finish crushing the buildings by the next year.

  10. Jet Li speaks.

  11. Broddie: It is hilarious in retrospect that I disliked DMX because he was too pop. I’m not gonna totally dismiss the Swizz Beats sound but I was never really a fan. Too clean, too simplistic, too synthetic. I used to say it sounds like someone got a Fisher-Price My First Beat Machine for Christmas. Again, time has been kind to that style, but when it came out, it just wasn’t dusty enough for me. I felt that there was all this room for hip-hop to expand its palette and I thought the big mainstream producers of the time were holding it back.

  12. The thing you have to remember is, hip-hop producers *had* to change styles around that time, because sampling laws changed and they were getting sued into oblivion (Gilbert O’Sullivan vs. Biz Markie, the motherfucking Turtles vs. De La Soul/Prince Paul), so they had to start creating their own tracks, and synths were cheap and easy to access.

  13. Nah, that’s not really true. The sampling laws were changed in the 80s and people are still sampling today, only that they now of course have to ask first and pay money for their samples. Like the Beastie Boys once said: “PAUL’S BOUTIQUE could still be made today, but would be more expensive.” And in the late 90s/early 00s Puff Daddy was still doing his “Mumble rap over popular popsong hook from yesteryear” schtick, so that can’t be it.

  14. I am fully aware, but that doesn’t really matter to me. If I don’t like the sound, I don’t care how or why it was arrived at. Sure, there are reasons why it sucks, but it still sucks and I’m still not listening to it.

    Also, somehow the underground managed to work within the sampling laws without dumbing the music down to nursery rhyme levels. The reason, of course, is that it was more important to these artists pay for the samples that would make the music better than it was to maximize profits. “But it wouldn’t have been as lucrative to make a better product!” is a perfectly valid excuse for a businessman, but I am not a businessman. I listen to music, not marketing strategies. So I don’t have much sympathy for the Casio warriors of the era. They got dealt a bad hand but they played it poorly.

  15. Broddie, I just wanted to chime in and say that was my favorite thing I’ve read about DMX anywhere, and of course being a fan I’ve been reading about him a lot, while thinking about him a lot.

    He was one of those guys I always worried about, even when his actions were funny in an abstract sense, like when he was arrested for impersonating a federal officer at JFK, like people wouldn’t notice he was Clark Kent or whatever.

    There is a very beautiful video from early in the pandemic in which X says that people need to learn to pray for themselves, and that he wouldn’t always be there to lead them in prayer. At one point, he interrupts his tone of astonished concern and searchingly reading from the part of the Bible quoted in “Turn, Turn, Turn” to politely, carefully, quickly and in a way where he thinks it is kinda funny and wants the person he is telling it to to think it is kind of funny too but still wants them to be careful informs someone off-screen that they have a bee on their shoe, in the kindest way possible, there is such a smile in his voice. This may be my favorite DMX moment ever, and there are a lot of inarticulable facial expressions that I had Vern-ishly screen-caped in years previously or kind, friendly demonstrations of niceness even in the way he would just greet someone that have resonated with me in very deep ways.

    All the kids I went to school with during the prime years of X’s reign loved him so much, I think he really spoke to 13-16 year olds in a way that is hard to articulate if you weren’t there, it was the closest thing I ever knew to, like, Bowie ’73, Nirvana ’92. A totally miserable class could be made tolerable by someone saying “Mind your business, lady!” or something and getting then in trouble or whatever. Nothing is better than when the entire culture agrees that some hilarious and nice weirdo is awesome and totally gets their schtick right away, it’s strange to think about those moments when these sort of eccentric weirdos with internal logic to their entire world are just totally greeted with open arms and instant understanding by mainstream media like that.

    DMX means quite a bit to me and it is something kind of difficult to quantify. I hope he is at peace, the peace he sought so desperately and beautifully, a very excited, wide-eyed, four-wheeler-riding peace in which he can directly communicate with dogs, even more than he could during his time on this earth.

    It meant a lot to me some months or years back, when people here started talking about that awesome time when DMX almost played The Crow. It made me feel like I was in the right place.

    The Turtles suing people is a complicated thing. The Turtles suing people is also the reason that any musician makes way, way more money from a single play on Sirus Satellite Radio than they do from an entire year’s Spotify streaming and that they ALL get paid (including De La Soul/Prince Paul), and that’s because Flo and Eddie noticed they weren’t getting paid because of some dumbass phony technicality, and got pissed off. (Though the news story related to the Turtles suing on behalf of “legacy” artists from pre-1972, it was widely-known among music – and stand up comedy – folks for making satellite radio as a whole a far more proper financial enterprise than any other platform besides lots of people actually buying music.) They did fuck up the beautiful, interesting, all-of-culture-celebrating, scholarship-encouraging art of sampling and it wasn’t a cool thing to do, but somebody was going to do that eventually, I don’t begrudge them for being the out-of-touch let-me-get-what’s-mine ones, just like I don’t blame Metallica for getting pissed at Napster or whatever. I also think a lot of people who made sample-heavy records early on would have been pissed if someone bit one of their bars, you know? What Volman and Kaylan did was not what I’d do, but it’s obviously something somebody was going to do at some point, lawyers and copyrights are obviously a thing and it was awesome that people were able to act like they weren’t for so long.

    Anyway, everything got devalued anyway like less than a decade later, and we’re in a cross-cultural state of reference and allusion all the time, so, like, everything is fucking samples anyway now, we progressed from the elevation and mystery of samples to quarter-second recognition of fucking memes. I dunno. Don’t blame Professor Flo for that. The original sampling music artist was Charles Ives, by the way.

    I like Swizz Beats like I like early Depeche Mode, Suicide, “Popcorn” by Hot Butter, “Red River Rock” or, like, “Walk of Life”. Not everybody’s thing but sometimes the plinky shit can say a lot to some people. P.S., somebody please sample the Siskel and Ebert theme.

    Mr. M, where do you categorize Scott Storch, how do you feel about his work?

  16. Shrug. About the same. None of those guys were anything special.

  17. Also, don’t forget who Swizz Beats is married to, not in terms of like, enjoying it personally but in terms an amazing recognition of there being work of substance there, something amazingly musical within the plinky sounds and silences. I trust her ear more than anyone.

    Also, if anyone wants to see people having fun, their videos of AK and SB goofing around during the pandemic are literally some of the funniest and nicest things I’ve ever seen. I would recommend them to all you folks here, whether you are fans of their music or not. There are so many good people in the world, it’s important to remember and celebrate that.

    You know what was awesome, when Bob Dylan wrote that song about how he cared about what Alicia Keys’ life was like.

  18. Also not much of a U2 fan myself besides a guilty enjoyment of that shitty song from boring-ass Batman 3 and a weird enjoyment of All That You Can’t Leave Behind, but man, I sure hope that Bono/DMX song called “Skyscrapers” is released, it supposedly has a “Miami feel”. I sent a news article about that to someone excitedly a few months ago. I bet it is great.

    It also means a lot to me to know that X had good influences in his life, like Alicia Keys or Bono.

  19. Not a huge fan of DMX’s music, but what resonates is his humanity in a genre who’s biggest stars are all about braggadocio and posturing. He channels pain like 2pac did, but without all the distracting ego bullshit. I like the vulnerability that is coming out now with all the goofy shit. Like hearing him ad lib to Taylor Swift, or that he liked the Golden Girls, or that Zoolander was his favorite movie. I think his life is a testament to the beauty of someone who can transcend ego and is just attune to beauty and raw feeling. Even when he is talking the tough shit, it doesn’t feel like it’s to impress you, but it’s honest. He’s just pissed or amped or whatever. He’s in his feelings.

    As for Swizz Beatz, that Styles P song Good Times is a favorite.

  20. I think my tastes in production overlap with Majestyk’s. There are obviously exceptions to everything, but I prefer raw and dusty. I honestly haven’t followed Swizz Beatz at all, and there’s definitely a simplicity and plasticity to some of the keyboard and drum sounds that (though better than No Limit) can sound cheesy to my ears. But I think it’s undeniable that DMX’s growling, barking sort of vocal style, the energy of the call and response and the different cadences he used seemed really new and different at the time. That’s what I was thinking of when I talked about it being a new sound. Come to think of it it’s amazing that his sound was so hard and aggressive without always having beats to match.

  21. A.L.F. – Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

    Mr. Majestyk – Oh don’t get me wrong I could still understand why. That synthesizer sound could get too cute. It’s the reason a lot of X’s 2nd album didn’t work for me (ie: Ain’t No Way and even Blackout which a lot of people love but it just never worked for me). I do agree that Bring Your Whole Crew is a banger but it set the bar too high and the rest of the album didn’t live up to it.

    Truth is I was done with DMX by the 3rd album. To this day I don’t think I’ve heard the entire thing. I had move on to shit like Red & Meth’s Blackout by that point which gelled more with my sensibilities. I grew up on the EPMD sound.

    However that first album from DMX is one of the pivotal joints in my life. I fell in love with hip hop as a kid back in ’88. Set it Off by BDK is what did it for me. I recently mentioned that to BDK himself on one of Lord Jamar’s youtube live cast. Kane said that was his “James Brown” song. Where he brings thay live funky vibe with pure vocal rawness to set off the rest of the project appropriately enough over a James Brown sample.

    That set the standard for me and Bomb Squad productions like The Great Adventures of Slick Rick and I Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back further solidified it. Not to mention Follow The Leader by Eric B. & Rakim, Kool & Deadly by Just-Ice and EPMD’s Strictly Business. So coming from that and even albums like Mama Said Knock You Out, Enta Da Stage and One For All the shiny suit era was really heartbreaking.

    The fact that people were trying to emulate No Way Out and Harlem World in ’97 for the most part was very off putting. A lot of wackness got a pass from that and I felt NY rap specifically was dying out. So when DMX dropped that album and I heard the Intro and Damien and X Is Coming for You & Stop Being Greedy man I had a huge grin on my face. There was still hope. Somebody had found a way to reinvent horrorcore and hardcore type shit just in time for me to be in high school.

    It was refreshing especially cause my 9th grade sweetheart was big into Mase. To the point that she played Harlem World everytime we’d hang around her house much to my annoyance. That shiny suit sweet shit was giving me cavities although to that album’s credit there is another great DMX verse over a pretty inspired sample on it. For that first album alone though DMX will always be one of the true kings of the city in my book.

    Swizz Beatz was hit and miss back then. I’d say he still is. However the hits were pretty hot. Ruff Ryder’s Anthem is a given I’d say but also All For the Love from The Lox’s first album (which of course featured one of DMX’s best verses over a sample one the title track) is still one of Jadakiss’ best song. Money, Cash, Hoes (another great DMX guest feature) is arguably the best song on that Jay-Z album though I myself am more partial to Originators ’98.

    He also proved himself to know when to tap into his inner DJ with his flair for good sample usage. Good Times is still Styles P’s biggest song and It’s All Good on DMX’s sophomore LP is one of that album’s more timeless bangers.

    That era was interesting sonically. Timbaland was arguably the best out of the bunch. In retrospect Supa Dupa Fly was a very creative and influential album that married the synths with innovative sampling. Nobody did it like Timbaland artistically not even The Neptunes when they really arrived with Superthug. Manny Fresh was also really flexing his creative muscles all over synthesizers. That’s the shit that inspired Dre to take the direction he did with 2001 and smoke it all up.

    Swizz and PK were sonically less interesting compared to those dudes when this shift was happening. Compared to today though they were borderline Mozarts. I don’t completely hate the Trap sound but it is definitely the most monotonous and inflexible standard musically since hip hop’s early days. Shit like Future’s Xanny Family and Low Life from a few years back had a bit more range than most. For the most part though I find most of it boring and I’m encouraged that zoomers are now getting more into lo-fi beats (what they call traditional boom bap) now. Which is kind of encouraging. The trap style has overstayed its welcome by about 6 yrs IMO

  22. Broddie, wow, you really are completely knocking it out of the park with amazing works of personal, critical and factual scholarship, for real. There are so many great writers on this site, I know the classy thing to do is to, like, just try to play it cool and be among the greats and shit, but, like, wow, I feel that kind of wide-eyed appreciation for people that was very much the basis of DMX’s kind, appreciative soul. You are all my dogs and you are all in my left titty, so to speak.

    I am such an unappreciative idiot where the culture and scope of hip-hop is concerned, so to be among so many real actual “heads” such as yourselves is a humbling and educational thing, as has being a Vernamaniac since before there were comments here. I realized, shit, I do not even know a single Manny Fresh thing at all, that sort of a “so much I should know, so much to learn” feeling. “Good Times” and Timbaland are indeed totally the absolute best.

    I should say that I am not personally familiar with Alicia Keys’ weird Instagram pandemic-cheer-up videos from learning about them on my own, a while ago I lived in a sublet after being in this weird studio for a while, and was talking to one of my roommates about the abovementioned Dylan song referencing the great Keys. He was like, dude, that rules, also all I did all pandemic was watch these videos of her goofing around and being nice and shit, watch this. And then he showed me these nice videos of them being positive, and he was like, all loathingly saying something about “her HUSBAND”, like all jealous and shit, and then I realized oh shit I either didn’t know or forgot Alicia Keys was married to Swizz Beats, he rules, nice. If anybody wants to see videos of Swizz Beats jumping on the bed and laughing they for sure exist, I would be blissed out like that if I was married to Alicia Keys too! The idea of everybody on earth being pissed off at him for marrying the most amazing woman and being a good husband to her sure makes me laugh, like when I think about Cameron Diaz being married to fool ass Good Charlotte I kinda know how people who hate Swizz but love Alicia must feel.

    I am appreciative of you all for not being too irritated when I make comparisons that are a bit of a stretch, so allow another set of those if possible.

    Vern, you totally just explained the badass juxtaposition of DMX perfectly, insofar as it relates to his actual recordings. The dog reminds me of some of my favorites from the punk and new wave genres in this regard.

    Is anybody here a fan of Suicide? Alan Vega’s guttural, maniacal, fiendish, NYC-informed, horror-shaded psychosis and reconsidered rockabilly classicism would not be as effective were he backed by, say, The London Symphony Orchestra, no matter how good the charts were. Similarly, Jonathan Richman – an artist who peaked early in terms of consistently astounding LPs but always had a good three to five gems per record even in his less intense years – literally made some haunting, evocative, weird-voiced music over music that is straight up and undeniably kiddie shit, like, singsong handclaps and camp counselor shit. It shouldn’t be good, but songs like “Lonely Financial Zone” and “Neon Sign” are devastating heartbreakers even though the music sounds like those singing kids cowboys I used to watch on TV as a kid, The Ghost Riders In The Sky. Interestingly, Modern Lovers-era Richman also would often go off into long, tearful tangents, spiritual pleadings and angry, defensive criticisms of a culture he saw as being full of negative people, while somehow not seeming like a brat or whiner. Although I’m more about the early shit or whatever, he is one of my favorites for this reason, as is X.

    I remember this period of time when people were talking about Springsteen AND Rocky Horror here all the time, and I was like, I am just going to keep my yap buttoned about these things I know lots about. However, there is an interesting divide among Bruce fans that reflects the dusty grooves vs proto ringtone circus music shit debate, the kind of kids shit that people don’t like they like Double Dutch or whatever. Some Bruce fans HATE everything besides the first two records, those made with the earlier, jazz-educated, pre-Little Steven and Max Weinberg E Street Band – there’s a huge contingency of Springsteen fans who think Max is a fucking clown and even Born to Run sucks and is sellout, plodding, unambitious, poorly-produced trash.

    Some Bruce fans, however, were Summer ’85ers all the way, and can think of no sound more mournful and heartbreaking than the robotic chiming calliope sound of “Bobby Jean”, no sound more representative of lower-income/marginalized people’s mistreatment than the repetitive machinery of the “Born in the USA” riff, and no sound creepier than the Suicide-influenced “I’m On Fire”, which, again, features some cheapo digital keyboard sound in contrast with unnerving intensity. Same with Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode – I find that shit legit scary and intense, even when it sounds just like Clarke’s later work in Erasure.

    Broddie, I would also like to say that my first girlfriend and her best friend LOVED Ma$E, and would talk about him all the time. Shiny suit shit sure is a lot funnier and easier to be cool with when you know an awesome lady who doesn’t give a fuck that Puffy sucks to the point of exclusion, and still enjoys that dumb shit thoroughly throughout the G-Unit era, because she kind of just loved all rap that was on MTV at the time, because rap rules. I am kind of like this with, like, alternative rock, so I’m like, “ALRIGHT, BUSH, NICE! SILVERCHAIR, ROCK ON!”, even though that is not the good shit at all. (P.S. Vern, so happy about Gen Xsploitation, it will be worth the wait.)

    Around the time of Ma$e’s comeback I remember telling my ex-girlfriend about this young lady I saw working overnights at Stop and Shop who wasn’t wearing her uniform as she rang me up, but instead was outfitted in a Ma$e shirt. My ex very cleverly and accurately pointed out that she had both ca$h AND Ma$e, which still makes me laugh, good one.

    Diddy fucking sucks and seems like an asshole, I’m still with MTV Awards Viewing Vern on that one, but I gotta say I did enjoy his stupid-ass “Diddy Blog”, which was mostly him flipping out while sitting in a desk chair and yelling “Diddy Blog!” over and over for too long, when he had that Joe Strummer hairstyle for a while. It was similar to how Curtis “Mumbles” Jackson – an underrated VERN PREDICTS, by the way! – got me when he got really into Pruane2forever and was bouncing around on this couch while Pruane2Forever sat there with a dumb look on his face.

    Had no idea about the Golden Girls or Zoolander, though. For some reason, I see DMX as being really into Sophia. They shared a mutual comedic strength – for all of their fire and energy, X and Soph were at their most uproarious in their mastery of the silent and understated double take. I hope that DMX and Drake Sather are kicking back with a nice seltzer from heaven’s soda stream right now, looking down and giving a nice cheers to us all, and are making each other laugh. Thanks for that, Skani.

    Back to Broddie, I’ll get back to you once I’ve more thoroughly invested the casual and knowledgeable education that your post was, though it may take me some time. Thank you for being here.

    Broddie and Majestyk, you guys are both New Yorkers, right? Remember like ten years ago when original pressings of the first two DMX LPs were, like five bucks in perfect condition everywhere you went? I bemoaned a storage woe a while ago – the space sold my shit a week before my payment deadline, without telling me of the auction, somehow – but would pay up to $25 bucks before tax for each of those records again without blinking an eye, if I had the scratch at the time. Also, even though I don’t know shit about rap I would say that two amazing LPs, five to ten undeniable singles after that and a few astonishing features (and a consistently great career as a person in the world, a sort of effortless artist where there was no separation from the work work and the work here on Earth) is a pretty good run. Among those later good songs, I am a big fan of “Where The Hood At”, or “Where The Hood @” as I like to think of it.

    Time to read Vern’s new Elf Man review.

  23. Oh, and for the record the other best tribute I’ve seen to DMX was Chris Rock’s, which earned Chris Rock about fifty billion A.L.F. points for that concentrated and fearless showing of human decency.

  24. Oh yeah, obviously this is different than me but one of the things that I love about both DMX and Jonathan Richman is their ZERO INTEREST IN THE INTERNET. They don’t make them like that anymore.

  25. Having previously outted myself as not a huge DMX fan, I want to say that I do really dig the song (and video!) he did with the Lox last year called “Bout shit” (colorful, as always). Dope song, and I like grizzled beer gut DMX at least as much as shirtless young DMX. There’s a Marlon Brando analogy in there somewhere, but I’ll leave it. I think Styles P steals the song, but I’ll let ynou decide.

    Also, between the DMX’s-latest-album song with Jay-Z and Nas (which I think Nas was on originally, but Jay-Z was added posthumously) and the Nas and Jay-Z song that just came out, I will take the DMX collab. The difference between the two songs really nails the difference between Jay-Z and DMX, and Jay-Z’s verses on both songs really nails while I can never really love Jay-Z. All aspirational lifestyle bling bling shit, and he even pulls Nas into that shit on the Khaled song. Gross.

    Anyway, all of this somehow got me down a bit of a rabbit hole that landed at various Apollo Brown songs and his album TROPHIES with O.C., which is an album you definitely need to give a spin and/or purchase to support these guys. Incredible album. The song “People’s Champ” from that album sent me further down an M.O.P. rabbit hole to catch up with those dudes, and I ended up really liking their 2014 album STREET CERTIFIED and at least a few tracks off of their prior album SPARTA. They are definitely a stick-to-the-formula kind of crew, but they have their own lane, and I’m a fan.

    So, there you have it. Support Apollo Brown, O.C., M.O.P., Lox, and, sure, DMX. Jay-Z, he’s got too much already, and his latest joint is about celebrating it and/or rubbing it in everybody’s face (nothing new).

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