DMX has has had one helluva year. Known for making heart-tugging street songs and appearing in headlines, we’ve all seen his struggles throughout the years and now he has checked himself into rehab. Reports detail his trouble in the law but not many media outlets and journalists know Earl Simmons.
After being released from prison in January, X was back on track killing shows and making appearances. He recently appeared in GQ looking dapper, clean and ready to take over the world. Word of him working with Swizz Beats and resigning with Def Jam Records gave his loyal fans hope for an incredible new album…and then he checked himself back into rehab.
According to a post on Instagram on DMX”s page it says, “In his ongoing commitment to putting family and sobriety first, DMX has checked himself into a rehab facility. He apologizes for his cancelled shows and thanks his fans for their continued support.”
I was a manicurist at the infamous African-American mall, Mart 125 and he approached my booth at closing asking for a manicure. He wasn’t famous at that time, but the Mart was known for the celebrities that visited because of its location directly across from the Apollo Theater. I was 17 years old and made a fair amount of money for a teen in high school. I had just purchased a plate of food from upstairs so I told him he had to wait until I was done eating and to ensure I would get the money I locked him in the nail booth and continued eating my food. He thought this was amusing and we began talking about hip-hop somehow and he mentioned he rapped. I asked him to rap and in true form he spit a verse and I was blown away. I did his nails and he became a customer and friend and he was always someone I could depend on. He often came to the Mart to visit the late Icepick Jay at Blackmen’s Jewelers where many of the Ruff Ryders met up to discuss business. During that year I learned a lot from him. Because I was the only girl around that knew hip hop, I would hangout in the studio while he recorded his classic debut album It’s Dark And Hell Is Hotand do whatever girl voices needed for his records. I watched in amazement when he recorded ‘Get At Me Dog’ and ended up punching vocals for an album cut called ‘ATF’ that later became a classic. I would hang out with him and his friend Dame Grease and they planned on taking over hip hop—and they did. In 1997 I finagled my way into the College Of Mount Saint Vincent through a HEOP scholarship and had no one to move me into the dorms. I called D and he and Dame Grease picked me up and drove me to my new home.
That year DMX was everywhere. From features to movies to releasing 3 platinum albums in one year. He was on fire and being the same D I had grown to love. It was refreshing to see a dude from the hood be himself in hip hop and Hollywood. Even as his fame grew he would show nothing but love and we would show me the same love D did back in 1996. He knew I loved Big Pun and called me to smoke a blunt with them inside Tower Records before a record signing. D was always himself and fast forward to know he still plays by his own rules.
While reports say he has checked himself into rehab, we must not forget the many contributions X has given to hip hop. He releases his pain, love and spirituality through his records and that’s exactly who he is. Many rappers create lifestyles on records and have a stylist create their style but Earl Simmons has always been the realist, most honest MC hip hop has to offer.
Let’s salute him and lift him up and never forget that summer he came in and changed the course of hip hop.
Check out this dope video made to the classic ‘ATF’ featuring Dame Grease and myself. Classic!
photo courtesy of Zoie Ellis Photography
video by Sturgis Issac