How can you listen to that?
Many people probably can’t understand how I can love DMX and be a fan of him, when you look at the way he expressses himself about homosexuality for example. But – I am neither the judge nor the guardian of people other than myself. Who am I to say that my belief is better or more worth than that of another person? Honestly. Just look at it from a different angle for one second and turn that thing around: The same way that I feel DMX has a wrong opinion about homosexuals, he probably feels that I have a wrong opinion, behause I don’t believe in his god or his church. Just as people may say DMX is a bad person, because he thinks homosexuality is wrong, he may feel I am a bad person, because I don’t believe in his god.
And now? Is either of both sides right? Don’t think so
To him me being an atheist probably is just as outrageous as his thoughts on gay people are to me. So it is all a matter of perspective and tolerance. Of course I can never agree with what DMX feels about gay people, but I don’t think I need to. And why should I disregard the whole person, just because of one belief we don’t share? Is love so smallhearted? Honestly, doing that would be the exact opposite of tolerance, it would be a kind of pc – fascism. And the fact that DMX speaks about his feelings and beliefs in a violent and open manner has nothing to do with gay people – that is the way he raps about everything. You can’t expect him to say „Fuck you“ in one sentence and when it is about gay people, he suddenly gets all polite and nice and raps „I don’t like you so much, but you surely are nice people“. Of course this isn’t happening. Nah, I can love DMX and his music without sharing his beliefs.
The Rap code
Listening to „Fuck y’all“ inspired me to write/paint this picturepoem.
I think it is a good example to explain the Code of Rap and HipHop. A lot of hiphop or rap happens in a kind of code. That makes it hard for people unused to Rap to understand the sense of the lyrics beyond the surface. If you take the poem I wrote, then of course you can’t take it literally. Nobody will fall down and become a better person when I say just one word or squint at them hard. And of course I don’t bleed. It is a code, a picture, with which I transport the strength and power of my emotions, the distance between others and me, my thoughts, my personality etc.. In this, Rap is unlike many other musical genres. Usually songs say what they mean very direct. But in Rap and HipHop this is different.
Kendrik Lamar is a master of this storytelling. He often has more than one different personalities, whose stories he then tells and sometimes it takes a bit time to find out, if he speaks about himself or if he speeaks as someone else. Take „Sing about me/Dying of thirst“, where he raps first as a guy, then as a woman and then as himself. This is fucking brilliant and you need some time to decode that.
My favourite piece of Code is a line on the record „Jesus Piece“ of The Game, where they talk about chains and a guy calls the juwels that are the eyes of Jesus on his Jesus piece „bitches“. Lovely! I repeat it for you: He says „Look at those bitches“ and means the eyes of the Jesus piece on his chain. If that isn’t brilliant or pure poetry, I don’t know! Especially with all those people who have no clue about Rap, but always get excited every time they hear the word Bitch, because they think right now a woman was being degraded. I love that!
The tragedy, trauma and sadness inside
Some things are ugly and you have to say them ugly.
What many people often forget, is that some things, some trauma changes people. Forever. Some things can’t be undone. There is no coming back from killing a human being. There is no coming back from looking in the eye of someone pointing a gun on you. There is no coming back from hitting someone so bad, that that person has to go to the hospital. After such things, you are a different person. Not totally, but a tiny part of you has changed forever. Or died forever. The balance, your inner scale has forever become unbalanced. Therefore it is nonsense to believe that soldiers who killed men, children and women in a war can return home and be who they were before they took another persons life. This doesn’t mean they can’t be happy again or live a good life, it just means that they are changed. They saw or did things no human should ever see or do.
The same is it with DMX and others in his situation. They saw some cray shit and to express this messy fucked up shit, they have to use messy, fucked up words. To me this is perfectly clear and beautiful. And should they not have the right to express themselves and spit the truth, just because the truth is ugly? Of course not. They have the same right to express their experiences the way they experience them as anybody else. If people really would listen to what DMX spits, they would get chills, would cry and laugh and love. The way he can subliminate, the way he can reflect and then boil things down to their essence is superb.
The boys without fathers
In one of his lyrics DMX tells us how he did his first bid at the age of seven. A bid is usually a prison sentence, in his case it was a foster home. His father had left his family, he felt, like many abonded kids, that it was his fault. He thought him being bad, complicated, not listening enough, making too much trouble would have made his father leave and made him stop loving him. And so his time in and of stately istitutions began, when he was seven. A heartbreaking and tough journey.
And that is the feeling I have the most when thinking about DMX: A tragic sadness. A deep sadness that he like so many others was born in a world, a situation that didn’t care about him. I am heartbroken that nobody did anthing to encourage his talents, that nobody gave him the self belief and the foundation, the love he would have needed to stand up for himself and experience himself. To trust in his strength and abilities. Instead he became, like many others, a tortured soul. A symbol of our time, our society.
An incredibly gifted, sensible man bound to self destruct. But too sensible and alive to head down that road for good and to deconstruct quick, violent and ugly. Instead he goes from trying to failing, from believing in himself to punishing himself. And then he starts the whole thing all over again.
There is a huge correlation with The Game, who tells us in his songs, how he started smoking Haze (in other words, taking drugs), when he was six and how he felt, when he saw his father molest his stepsister. And how he can’t cope with the hate and disgust that he is the offspring of that disgusting being. A selfhate, with which he struggles still these days. This was something that changed him forever and the song „Bloody moon“, in which he tells this story is one of the many reason, why I love The Game. Not just being a fan of him, but love him for saying things others are afraid to say. Calling things by by their ugly names. That is soulcrushing, but so much needed. Tell me any other musical genre who deals with all the shit that happens?
Or take J.Cole, when he raps in „Get up“, how some guys knock up different women, then claim they got set up and how he hopes that those children never will fuck with their fathers. In the same song he connects this to his own youth and his feeling of loss and inadequacy, because his father left him (you of course see the pattern) and didn’t teach him shit. He also raps about his deep longing to teach (his) children all his father never tought him through his lyrics.
I began with writing about DMX, but somehow along the way it became a loveletter to Rap. A letter of love for it’s beautiful, damaged and lost heroes. May they never give up the fight.