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The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away


Life in a Shanty Town

April 9 · Issue #293 · View online

The hip-hop newsletter that's not afraid to ask the tough questions

Spring is a time of renewal, but also a time of great loss.
On the one hand, Bhad Bhabie started an OnlyFans, and it’s lit, fam. But on the other hand, DMX finally smoked himself into Bolivian.
As I’m typing this, they’re announcing that his brain activity is unchanged from this past weekend. They’re probably gonna have to unplug him, and it’s not clear to me what they’re waiting for.
Certainly, they don’t think that they can harvest his lungs, do they?
You sometimes hear stories about organ transplant recipients taking on personality characteristics of their donors. Imagine if you received a kidney from DMX and suddenly felt compelled to smoke crack.
For those of us old enough to have seen that video of him performing at Woodstock 99 (arguably my generation’s finest moment), it’s hard to imagine DMX in a vegetative state.
It seems like you should be able to wave a $5 vial beneath his nostrils, like smelling salts, and he’d hop right up out of the hospital bed and start rapping “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”
Presumably, they’ve already thought to try this. If they haven’t, they should seriously consider it as a last resort.
I’ve heard younger people on podcasts admit to hardly knowing who DMX is—which is a sad commentary on the devastating effects of drug addiction.
X has been around in some form or another since the early ‘90s, when he was in Unsigned Hype and he gave K-Solo the idea for “Spellbound” when they were both in jail. (Has K-Solo been reached for comment?)
But his actual time in the spotlight was confined to a two- or three-year span in the late '90s-early '00s, roughly encompassing my time in college. Neither of us was making especially good decisions in those years.
DMX dropped two albums in 1998 alone, and they both went multiplatinum. That year, Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen sold their remaining stake in Def Jam and made way more than they would have if it weren’t for X. I hope they’re appreciative!
He repeated that same feat once or twice more, and then he just kinda disappeared into a dense fog of crack smoke. Every once in a while you’d hear a story about him abusing pit bulls or imitating a police officer, as one does, but that’s it.
The last thing I remember him doing was that episode of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” where his suspect-looking son gave him an ultimatum: either stop smoking rocks, or lose your relationship with your suspect-looking son.
It wasn’t much of a choice for DMX, but I’d like to think that was because crack really is that good, not because black men don’t care about their children.
Indeed crack must be one hell of a drug, if it silenced a voice as mighty as DMX.
Take it easy on yourself,

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