The definition of a genius is a person who displays exceptional ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge. He is a scholar in many or a single subject and may be referred to as ahead of his time which leads to why they are often misunderstood. This.. is absolutely the definition of this particular individual who is clearly on the precipice of yet another exciting new chapter.
A genius to me is one who can walk through that hellfire mostly unscathed and come out without the smell of smoke. I come from this masterminds stomping grounds and fully understand the cloud that sits over the impoverished areas. I also am aware of the systematic poverty that fuels the inability to make it out. Liquor stores and caustic language greet you every couple of blocks. Making it home from jail was celebrated more than college homecomings.
When you can take the vicissitudes of that environment; the nothingness and create something, you are a genius.
This particular artist…
Colossal History-making Genius!!
He has proved to the masses, again and again, your circumstances can not define you. In fact, it should empower you. The only way it can impede upon your gifts is if YOU allow it to.
Even if your name stands for Dark Man.
The name is a euphemism for what his talent has actually been able to achieve. His soul is in his artistry and the people.
In 1989, I was 14.. engulfed in everything Hip-Hop I had met this artist through my Brother Cloud, him, my best friend and I immediately clicked and hung out a few times. He had a show coming up at school 12 in Yonkers and invited us to check it out. It was crowded, we made our way through the Carhartt, Timb, and Fila outfitted folk stopped close to the platform which he stood on. As soon as he grabbed the mic the crowd control was laser. He demolished it. Earl Simmons performed with a level of urgency and dynamism that I’d never had the honor of witnessing before.
At that moment I knew.. this guy is a genius and one day the entire world will know his name.
If you are a lover of Hip-Hop you’ve belted his verses at ignorant levels while imitating his voice even if your mom was in the room! #DontLie
You saw that first music video in the legendary Tunnel nightclub and said: “What in the Eukanuba and pit lover is this…..!!!!!!!!” You wanted to leap clear out your chair through the screen and lose it with the crowd! #ThatIsHipHop #WhosWithMe
A fresh surge of excitement for Hip-Hop.
New York had given birth to yet another golden child.
Quiet sometime would pass before the world would indeed know his name. A few years before signing with the Ruff Ryders label, he was signed to Columbia/Ruffhouse in 1992. After releasing a single, “Born Loser” he was released from the contract and moved on. Still pressing forward, DMX made an appearance in ’95 on a hit single with Mic Geronimo, JayZ, and Ja-Rule called “Time to build”.
In ’97 alongside one of Hip-Hops Legends LL Cool J also accompanied by Hip-Hop greats Redman & Method Man and…. the controversial Canibus. DMX laid a killer verse dead smack in the middle of a legendary brewing battle. The Hip-Hop moment when LL swung the Excalibur letting Canibus and whoever else know don’t even come for him even if you’re sent!!
The universe was working its magic, DMX was being pushed into his purpose. As the stars aligned they added lighter fuel to that flame The LOX (Jada Kiss, Styles P, Sheik Louch) released a scorching hit “Money, Power, Respect.” Ft DMX and the incredible Queen B Lil Kim that catapulted up the charts and shook the entire Hip-Hop industry.
Who was this…?? The voice, the raw unfiltered lyrics, the flow, the authenticity, the image and the team that surrounded him… it was unprecedented.
1998 was an incredible year for not just DMX Def Jam who he had then signed to, but Hip-Hop as a whole. In February Earl released his first single, “Get At Me Dog”.
The world was now ready to digest the entirety of The Dark Man and this new wave. His first major-label album “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot” released in May 1998 debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts selling over 5 million copies worldwide! December 1998 DMX kept the fire burning with his second album “Flesh Of My Flesh Blood Of My Blood” also debuted and staying at number one for the first 3 weeks on the Billboard 200!
This genius made history becoming the first Hip-Hop artist to release 2 number one album in the same year!
The industry was changing allowing artists to merge into acting. Earl just so happened to be a natural landing a role alongside Nas and T-Boz from TLC in this iconic hood classic “Belly”. His depiction of the character Tommy Bunz was executed flawlessly. Just like that, Earl Simmons had now become an international superstar.
In 1999, he raised the bar even higher. His third best selling masterpiece “…And Then There Was X” skyrocketing up the charts becoming his third album to debut at number one on Billboard 200 ultimately selling over 6 million albums! The song “What These B*tches Want” ft Cisco also signed to Def Jam was the silent assassin single that buzzed in every car that passed. Shortly after countless movie roles poured in. In 2000, DMX stared alongside Asian star Jet Li in what became a breakout role in the American Film Industry in “Romeo Must Die”.
The roles got even bigger in 2001. He stared beside international superstar Steven Segal in “Exit Wounds”
Permanently validating Earl as a Hollywood actor.
Of course, all this success did not come without the typical celebrity woes. You can’t have light without heat. Challenges he faced in his personal life did its best to propel the multi-platinum superstar off course. Instead, he focused his energy on the music and release of his 4th studio album in 2001 titled “The Great Depression”. It became his 4th studio album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with magnetic singles like “Who We Be” and “We Right Here”. Although certified triple platinum it wasn’t the sales the Hip Hop genius was used to.
DMX released a fifth studio album in 2003 titled “Grand Champ”. The God he’s often heard preaching about was definitely on his side. Once again his album debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200! Disputed the challenges he faced Earl become the first artist in history to release 5 consecutive studio albums to debut at number 1! Spiritually the number 5 stands for “Grace”. The grace that covers during weakness, trials, and tribulations. “Where The Hood At” was an ultrasonic clarion call of support for anyone who’s ever rocked with him as an artist. Especially after he then announced that this was the final masterpiece from the genius and he’d soon retire from Hip Hop.
In 2006, DMX signed with Columbia Records releasing album number 6 “Year Of The Dog… Again” debuted at number 2 only a couple hundred copies shy of hitting number one on Billboard 200. In 2008 Def Jam released 2 compilation albums, Greatest Hits “The Definition Of X” and ” The Best Of DMX”.
During this time Earl was searching for guidance and leaning strongly on his faith. In 2009 he decided he would pursue preaching spending most of his time studying scripture and following God’s call on his life. Still having a love for music, Earl vowed production was still on the table.
In 2011, DMX reemerged performing at the BET Hip-Hop awards bearing good news for his diehard fans. Yet again he was working diligently on his 7th studio album titled “The Weight In” which became an EP he digitally released in May of 2012.
Later that year September 2012 Undisputed was released after signing an album deal with Seven Arts Ent. After Seven Arts illegally released Earl’s 8th studio album in 2015 called “Redemption Of The Beast” without contract or permission. Earl Simmons ended his deal with Seven Arts took legal action against the company.
In June of 2016 producer to the stars, Divine Bars produced the single “Blood Red” to rave reviews.
DMX has also stepped back into the lab with prodigious producer Swizz Beatz who I’ve been to the studio with DMX and heard what was nothing short of incredible. They released a song called “Bain is Back”. Swizz states Dr. Dre, as well as Kanye West, would both have their hands in the pot as collaborators on this next project.
Now, in 2019 while working on his 8th studio album you can believe it is nothing less than extraordinary.
Earl has managed to outlast any struggle he’s faced. I always remind him how proud I am of his contributions to this thing we love called Music. The quick whittled sapient punchlines and unmatched showmanship keep his calendar full to this day with nonstop bookings. The genius from around the way who made something out of nothing, pure grit, fortitude, and endurance as his lyrics state isn’t going anywhere.
The thing about geniuses you never know what they’ll come up with next and you can never EVER count them out!
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BW Artist Spotlight original published in the September 15, 2019 Westchester Music Edition of Black Westchester Newspaper.