A few years back, hip hop lost its dog. Fierce, energetic, intense, the dog eventually let itself become out of control- even control of itself. However, the faint barking heard from a distance over the last few months may be a sign that DMX is back.
For a long time, DMX has been one of music’s biggest paradoxes: a spiritual rapper with criminal urges and troubles with addiction. His presence and rhyme skills made him one of the best out for several years, but eventually his demons got the best of him.
However, Earl Simmons’ struggle reminds me of another musician: Johnny Cash. Hear me out. Both were known for their outlaw image, their strong spiritual connection with God, and their personal troubles. I would even go so far as to say that DMX is what John R. Cash might have been had he been raised in Yonkers.
The silver lining in this comparison is that Cash eventually defeated his demons and went onto win the heart of June Carter, whom he stayed married with until her passing. He also had a career renaissance in the ’90s/early 2000s collaborating with Rick Rubin before his death. Come to think of it, at that time the man in black was an Island/Def Jam recording artist, just like Dark Man X
The difference between Cash and X is that the latter’s problems have been far more severe. He has been in and out of jail for multiple years now for various illegal activities, ranging from cocaine addiction to parole violations to even animal cruelty (through negligence). Because of this, I was initially very skeptical of X’s plans for redemption. >I even predicted his comeback would fall flat earlier this year.
However, since his release from prison in July, Earl Simmons the man has managed to stay out of trouble. He claimed he kicked his drug habit, and seems to be very sincere when speaking of walking a straight path. DMX the artist also seems to have found his footing; a song called “Keep Your Head Up” was debuted live on Dr. Drew’s television show, and a video for a song called “The Last Hope” was released a few months back. Both songs are classic X: deep, heartfelt, meaningful. What’s more, X has recently been in the studio working with Machine Gun Kelly, an up-and-coming rapper with some serious mic skills.
I don’t want to call it too soon but the optimist in me thinks DMX may be back. You hear that? That bark is starting to grow louder again…