Me, My Dad, and DMX
The rap god was a one-of-one — and a conduit for father-son bonding
By the nature of their profession, music stars get elevated.
They’re elevated by the very stage on which they perform, illuminated by bright lights cascading onto them. All of it assists in separating these celebrities from the masses they entertain. It’s as true of hip-hop as any genre — maybe more so, with the presence of so many larger-than-life personas in the culture. Bravado and braggadocio are staples of a genre that spins yarns of millionaire playboys and godfather kingpins, young rhyme-spitters blending fact and fiction into lyrical tirades meant to entertain and manifest the wealth that eludes so many.
And then there was X.
DMX was unique during an era when god MCs walked the Earth. He was lyrical but seldom went over your head. He commanded respect from the streets and the mainstream but didn’t fancy himself king of New York like The Notorious B.I.G. before him. He went platinum but never excessively flashed the wealth that came along with it. He was the most human of his class of megastars, the most real. Few have been able to match his emotional resonance, and that looks to remain true for a very long time.
The voice. The rawness. The seething emotion. Dark Man X was a squall, a fury incarnate. A celestial body bound in the flesh of a man. Whether locked in a cypher or in prayer, he could pull your emotions to the surface simply by putting his own on display.
As for us, we do the work of remembering the ways X touched our lives. For me, X is intrinsically tied to my relationship with my father.
My dad may have looked the part of a Wall Street executive, but even he could relate to the realness that X brought to every track. Sometimes that was desperation, that loneliness that often defines life on the streets. Sometimes it was the need to be loved but the inability to ask for it.
In the middle of my sophomore year, I’d been unenrolled from my high school in Yonkers and sent to live with my dad in New…