The day to day impact that Parents, Guardians and Support Systems leave on an individual is colossal. Energy that surrounds a person can be equivalent to a cold dungeon or the warmth of a Utopian experience. In the case of children, they are sponges that absorb everything in their environment. This environment often creates a path for the child to follow, in a journey called life. The adult you see is often the byproduct of a combination of events that molded a child through infancy, youth, adolescent and young adult years. You can almost say that a person is basically a science project to a degree. In the classroom of Earl Simmons, I believe the professors failed to prepare him for his assignments and exams.
For over a decade I worked with troubled youth in Group Settings, Hospitals, Jails, Detention Centers and other Residential Facilities. Many of the young men I mentored were from broken homes. Many of the young men I spent time with saw violence, drugs, abandonment, poverty and abuse as a standard way of living. This was also the same for young females who my colleagues worked closely with. I often call these individuals “Forgotten Children” because the “Safety Net” was neglected by people whose purpose was to protect their seeds and allow them the opportunity to properly grow. Earl Simmons aka DMX is the poster child for what I experienced at one point in my professional career.
As a young man, DMX had a toxic relationship with his parents. DMX has often discussed the turbulent childhood where he was dropped off with his Grandmother and other family members. DMX talked about living in Group Homes and Detention Centers on a consistent basis. There are so many African American kids who have a similar story. When children are raised in economically challenging situations, they are generally the victim of parental frustration. We are well aware that frustrated parents often transfer their anger and misfortune to their children. DMX cited that at one point, he felt that his Grandmother was the only person that truly loved him. Man, that’s an unfortunate way to view childhood. On the heartfelt track “I Miss You” featuring Faith Evans, DMX was very vivid about his life and relationship with his Grandmother. He talked about her death.
“Grandma, I really miss you and it ain’t been the same. I drop a tear whenever I hear your name – Mary Ella Holloway, why you got to be so far away – You use to say everything is going to be ok –but it ain’t –it’s like when you left, you took the Lord with you –Why couldn’t I come when he came to get you – Damn I really MISS YOU”…
You see, all we desire is love and when love is absent, other factors come into play. By the time DMX was a young teen, he was out in the streets committing crimes, using drugs and drinking. At an early age, he dabbled in cocaine, which would be a fight he would endure for decades. People who hurt often supplement their pain with some type of addiction. Before Earl Simmons became the Hip Hop Legend DMX, his life was filled with trauma. Children who are victims of instability are more susceptible to the roller coasters of life, a rocky ride to say the least. It’s often hard to find a consistent level of peace. These factors assist in creating bad energy that many see as a form of “Demons”. Now you are forced to fight internal battles with yourself that can last a lifetime. DMX tried his hand in mischief for years before perusing a career in Rap Music. In Yonkers (New York), DMX was originally called “Dark Man X” in the early 90’s, many years before he made a real buzz in the industry.
In 1991, The Source Magazine featured DMX in the Unsigned Hype section. For any hip hop head, you know this can be monumental for an aspiring rappers career. You are front and center as possibly being “Next Up” for Record Labels to pay attention to. The Source Magazine at this time was the Hip Hop Bible to rap enthusiast. A year later in 1992, DMX was signed to Ruffhouse (a subsidiary of Columbia Records) and he released his first official single, “Born Loser”. The single stayed underground and went unnoticed on mainstream and radio. DMX continued to battle other MC’s in the streets keeping his reputation as a RAW and serious rising MC on the radar of local fans. “Born Loser” had an old school hip hop feel but his lyrics showed the reality of life. DMX recited the line “I don’t have an address, so I can’t get welfare”. During this time, DMX was released from his contract. His demo The Unstoppable Force, and Three Little Pigs went overlooked by many. Less than two years later DMX released the single “Make A Move” in 1994 and appeared on Mic Geronimo track “Time To Build” in 1995 with the unknown rappers Jay-Z and Ja Rule. Man, who would have imagined the impact these guys would have on the Hip Hop culture a few years later.
The Hip Hop Community had no choice but to embrace DMX because the authenticity in his energy could not be denied. From 1994 to early 1998 DMX reputation continued to explode in New York and on the East Coast. In 1997 DMX was invited by LL Cool J to be featured on the posse cut “4, 3, 2, 1” which was a major achievement in his early career. A few months later DMX was a guest on The LOX hit single “Money, Power and Respect” featuring Lil Kim and MA$E very popular track “24 Hours To Live”. Needless to say, DMX raw lyrics and persona shined the brightest. At this point and time everyone wanted to know more about DMX and anticipated his album. DMX was the newest big signee to Def Jam and in February 1998, the single “Get At Me Dog” was released and went Gold. The rap world would never be the same. Before the masterful debut album it’s Dark and Hell is Hot hit the Record Stores, Def Jam followed up the success of the lead single with “Stop Being Greedy”, and “Ruff Ryder Anthem”. DMX was now the hottest MC on the streets by May 1998. Hip Hop was in the Puffy and MA$E era but DMX reminded the Rap Fans of Biggie and Tupac. The Tupac comparisons came immediately because of his raw emotions and honesty. Several months later DMX made history by releasing his sophomore album “Flesh of My Flesh” in the same year. In a 12 month span, DMX had two multiplatinum albums and co headlined a tour with Jay-Z called the Hard knock Life Tour that featured Redman, Method Man, Ja Rule and other rising artist. I remember going to this concert in Greensboro, North Carolina at I must say it was a very dope event. Over the years DMX released several platinum albums and became a movie star as well. I mean, life had taken a huge turn for Earl Simmons.
Angels and Devils can appear on our shoulders and are generally never far away. Unfortunately for DMX, the dysfunction that plagued him as a child followed his behaviors deep into adulthood and hurt his career. DMX has been locked up several times in his career for countless violations. DMX and his wife Tashera are no longer together. DMX has a history of infidelity that has led to reports of him having 15 children by several women. DMX and some of his kids have strained relationships according to reports. This behavior is part of the “Generational Curses” that I’ve written about in the past. At any rate, the battle with drug addiction has haunted him for over 20 years as well. There have been reports of DMX suffering from depression and other challenges mentally. We have watched the rise and fall of Earl Simmons on several occasions. With DMX, you never know what to expect. Whenever you hear his name “trending”, you almost say a silent prayer. Speaking of prayer, DMX has incorporated faith into his lyrics and stage performances for decades. DMX has a deep spiritual energy that illuminates in the prayers he records at the end of his albums and concerts. You feel how authentic his emotions are but you know that he’s battling his personal demons at the same time. I think the song “Slippin’” is DMX truly spilling his life journey on paper. Hurt can follow you a lifetime. Hurt can destroy everything that you love. Hurt can make you feel alone, even in a crowded room. DMX had a special bond with his Grandmother and when she died, he loses a piece of himself. I know because I’ve been there myself with regard to my Grandmother. DMX is one of the most complicated Rappers in the History of Hip Hop. DMX is one of the most talented and gifted Rappers in the History of Hip Hop. My hope is that one day Earl Simmons finds a way to mend bridges that have collapsed and realize that even in pain, there is “Joy” in the morning.
Peace and God Bless “The Dog”
Sources & Pics: Married Biography, The Source Magazine, Wikipedia, Youtube ..
DMX " I Miss You" featuring Faith Evans