Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Earl Simmons Superstar

Very few MC's achieve the fleeting status of Hip Hop Legend. In the dimly-lit alleys & back streets where "real" hip hop is the necessary way of life, there exists a band of man who, for all intents & purposes, are virtually untouchable inside the booth & the outside world as well. Uber-fans & followers, Stans if you will, defend, protect, & shout praises of these more-than-mortal men no matter the circumstance. The ultra elite core of these lyricists no longer walk among the living; Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Big Punisher, Big L & Pimp C, to name a few. All passed on before their true apex was realized, yet their legacies live indefinite through the fans & bodies of work we've been blessed with. Of the living icons; Jay-Z, Eminem, Ice Cube, Scarface, NaS, LL & several others, one man stands alone on the cusp of hip hop immortality.

He is neither dead nor alive, tiptoing the fine line between sanity & lunacy. This man is Earl Simmons b.k.a. Dark Man X.

If ever an MC could be described as walking dichotomy, it's him by a landslide. Many rappers are caricatures of the lifestyle they profess, but DMX is the truth manifested. His face is a real-time emoticon, his voice the soundtrack to a struggle, his life an open book for any reader prepared to bask in it's tumultuous wisdom.

His debut opus, 1998's It's Dark & Hell Is Hot, is still heralded as one of hip hop's finest moments. It's music, racked pain & anger, was still able to deliver club joints & anthems flawlessly. Needless to say, not many rap artists can cover such a vast spectrum with unbridled emotion as he did. Thanks to Ruff Ryder Records & accompanied by Swizz Beatz, Earl had the world barking like a dog & howling at the moon while it collectively wiped away it's tears.

The Hell he spoke of was/is his life. We've followed him there & back countless times, only to be continuously mystified by his outrageous antics & self-fulfilling prophecies. Not quite invincible, but unstoppable by all definitions of the word. Now, we see the tortured soul at it's lowest point, shackled, mute & motionless. But as any great man will tell you, the bottom must be reached before proper propulsion upward can be ascertained.

The next obvious step should be the retrieval of said greatness, the resurrection of the man doomed to be King. The average human would have succumbed to the powers that be by now, & surely hung himself years ago. But not X. His life story reads like a graphic novel of crime, lust, drugs & violence, yet, the end is still pending. Years after his introduction & subsequent rise & fall from grace, DMX is still regarded as one of the best to ever do it. As long as blood pumps through his heavy heart, the opportunity still exists to pick up where he should have never left off. If one individual can rise from the ashes & breath the passionate creativity back into our cherished art form, it would be him. Not since Tupac has an MC so willingly bared his soul & revealed his wounds to be the sacrificial lamb of a generation. The people weren't prepared for his coming the first time, but in a [hip hop] world now overflowing with anarchy & revolt, his return should be more than welcome.

That is, of course, if he's finally got his mind right. Solitary confinement affects men in different ways. Some argue that drugs & fast living have rendered the once & future king a shell of his former self. Others blame his affinity for law breaking as a stumbling block to an otherwise noteworthy career. Only time will truly tell if his storms have been weathered, or left him washed up on the shores of irrelevance.

The question then remains; is he finally ready to accept his rightful role in the history books or will his re-re-release into the free world mark the tragic end of his legacy*?

*Also check out:
Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood (1998),
...And Then There Was X (1999)
The Great Depression (2001)
Grand Champ (2003)
Year of the Dog......Again (2006)