There has been much written about Earl Simmons, many articles discussing exhaustively about his demons, his addiction and incarceration to sell newspapers and for ratings on TV and Cable News. And while Earl himself confirmed much of what they said about him was true, it was far from the whole story. Others talk about his music, the energy on stage, his lyrics, his incredible show performance. Still, most leave out one of the most important elements of who he was, his spirituality. Yes, it may be mentioned in passing, but we decided we wanted to dedicate a full page and entire article to share this side of DMX cause we felt they don’t know who he be!
He was a street prophet, a street apostle, a Man of God, and most importantly, a prayer warrior. DMX never skipped an opportunity to thank the Lord for his blessings. He prayed backstage, he prayed on stage, he prayed before rocking the crowd in-person or virtually, he ended his show with a prayer, he prayed before he ate, he prayed for those he knew, those close to him and with complete strangers who were going through something. He taught many how to pray. Every album had a prayer. And while he was in the hospital and even after his passing, God used him to reach people. People who have never prayed in their lives or who do not have an active prayer life, prayed for DMX, prayed for his recovery and after his passing. Prayed for his soul; that’s nothing short of the Power of God.
Sure DMX was a flawed man. Who among us isn’t? But his words are what made him a shepherd doing God’s work. He battled addiction, but he used his life as a cautionary tale and put it in his music to inspire and encourage his fans. He was a powerful wordsmith whose prayers got us through.
His debut album, “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot” released on May 12, 1998, by Ruff Ryders and Def Jam featured four singles—”Get at Me Dog”, “Stop Being Greedy”, “Ruff Ryders Anthem” and “How’s It Goin’ Down” that rocked the streets, the clubs and enjoyed heavy rotation on radio, but there was also, “The Prayer”, the first of many that would accompany every album to follow…
I come to you hungry and tired, you give me food and let me sleep
I come to you weak, you give me strength, and that’s deep
You call me a sheep and lead me to green pastures
Only askin’ that I keep the focus in between the chapters
You give me the word and only ask that I interpret
And give me the eyes that I may recognize the serpent
You know I ain’t perfect, but you’d like me to try
Unlike the Devil, who just wants me to lie ‘til I die
Lord, why is it that I go through so much pain?
All I saw was black, all I felt was rain
I come to you because it’s you who knows
You showed me that everything was black because my eyes were closed
You gave me the light and let me bask in your glory
So it was only right that, when you asked for this story
I put it together, to do our dogs some good
Our dogs being brothers and sisters in the hood
Plenty of times you sent help my way, but I hid
And I remember once, you held me close, but I slid
There was somethin’ that I just had to see
That you wanted me to see so I could be what you wanted me to be
And I think I’ve seen it, ‘cause I don’t feel the same
Matter of fact, I know I’ve seen it, I can feel the change
And it’s strange, almost got me beatin’ down your door
But I’ve never known love like this before
It’s a wonderful feelin’ to get away from the pain
And up under the ceilin’, I get away from the rain
And the strain that I feel when I’m here is gone
I know real, so I wipe away the tear, it’s on
And I almost lost faith when you took my man
Monty, Paso, and Jay’s brother Dan
And I fear that what I’m sayin’ won’t be heard until I’m gone
But it’s all good, ‘cause I really didn’t expect to live long
So, if it takes for me to suffer for my brother to see the light
Give me pain till I die, but, please, Lord, treat him right
In the Bible, Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Hebrew name Saul of Tarsus, was a Christian Apostle – although not one of the Twelve Apostles – he was the one for Jesus choose to spread the His teachings to Gentiles. In the same way, in the late 1990s, God choose Earl Simmons to spread His word to the modern-day Gentiles – The Hip-Hop Generation. DMX was a modern-day Paul the Apostle.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes in his second letter to the church of God that is in Corinth; Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. DMX had his own thorn in his side and we saw it play out of TV screens, news cameras, in the media as well as on stage and in his music. Like Paul, Earl was “called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus,” but his movement and appearance was no more like that of a preacher in church, than Paul operated the way the Jewish Apostles – who walked with Christ – did. In both cases God did not want the most polished biblical or Jewish scholar, but a relentless doer to reach His people.
Another similarity between Paul and Earl, Paul had asked God three times to take away this ‘thorn” and God answered his prayer with “NO!” God simply stated, “My grace is sufficient.” “I am going to allow you to continue suffering.” Paul’s reply shows that he understood this. He chose to be quiet, stop praying about it, and be content with sufferings.
Earl was pleased God decided to use him and that people were being blessed by but would have liked it to happen without the pain and suffering but much like Paul, he understood and was content with the suffering. Think I’m reaching, don’t take my word for it, Earl told you that himself in the closing of his prayer on his debut album; And I fear that what I’m sayin’ won’t be heard until I’m gone/ But it’s all good, ‘cause I really didn’t expect to live long/ So, if it takes for me to suffer for my brother to see the light/ Give me pain till I die, but, please, Lord, treat him right.
Now for some, God’s answer may sound just outright cruel; I am going to allow you to continue to suffer, when with the snap of a finger, God could have made both prophets’ pain go away. But that’s because we do not understand how God works. He did not want either to take the credit, or get conceited about what God was doing through them, but to give God the credit. God used these imperfect men, these flawed individuals who you know it couldn’t be all them, it had to be by the Grace of God. In that way. God used both men to bring His people closer to Him.
When that happens, jealousy ensues. Preachers and some holier than thou churchgoers can not accept DMX as a messenger from God no more than the original disciples accepted Paul. Some were even saying why would Jesus choose Paul when we walked with Jesus; we were his friends. But like the disciples kept God’s word and shared it with those like them and around them, and how some preachers only help those who come in the church building, God used Paul to reach those who the disciples- who walked with Him – weren’t reaching. God used DMX to reach the people in the streets that do not read the bible regularly, who do not enter the church building or want nothing to do with the church – you know the CME’s who go on Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter – that pastors aren’t reaching. Paul was charged with taking His Word to the Gentiles and DMX was charged with taking His Word to the streets.
So when we only look at DMX as the real street dude, as a dope rapper, an energetic emcee, as a flawed individual who battled his demons, we do him a great disservice because he was a Messenger of God, a street prophet, his pulpit was Hip-Hop, his congregation was his fans. Black Westchester dedicated this entire issue to celebrate the Life and Legacy of Earl “DMX” Simmons, and we salute him. We wanted to dedicate this page to uplift his Spirituality because that was just as much a part of him and all the rest, “Lord Give Me A Sign”, wasn’t his first spiritual record, just the first Def Jam decided to make a single, there was also joints like “Thank You” with Patti Labelle of The Grand Champ album and “Angel” featuring Regina Belle on the Exit Wounds Soundtrack just to name a few.
Now his assignment here on Earth is done.
Rest In Power, my brother!
Originally written for our April 15, 2021 DMX Commemorative Issue of Black Westchester Newspaper!