The Mystery, Layers, and Rarity of DMX

On Friday, April 9, 2021, Earl Simmons, known as DMX or X, died. His heyday as a rap artist was in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was nominated for three Grammy awards and was in a number of action movies. His tragic death at the age of 50 is being mourned by many, and it’s through this outpouring of grief and the flood of tributes that I’ve become somewhat familiar with the artist DMX.

In addition to his regular fans, many celebrities have made comments on social media about the man and his life:

In an Instagram video, DMX’s very close friend and music collaborator, Swizz Beatz, said that DMX was a “humanitarian who never talked about it, and he should be celebrated. He was different because he lived his life for other people. He prayed before and after every concert, and he prayed for fans and for anyone who asked him. He prayed for everybody before he prayed for himself. He was a prophet—the only one, DMX.”

Justin Tinsley, sports and culture reporter for ESPN’s The Undefeated, in an April 12 interview on NPR’s “Here and Now,” said that “DMX’s music was a portal into our own lives. Tinsley recalled DMX saying that if he helped another person find light, he will have lived a good life.”

In an interview on the Dr. Phil Show several years ago, DMX admitted that he made angry music. Yet, he had a conversation with the Lord on every album. He was in violent action films and he also loved the 1990s television sitcom, The Golden Girls.

Some who knew him saw DMX as a victim. However, his behavior toward Iyanla Vanzant, life coach, on Iyanla Fix My Life,might paint him as a bully. In an interview following the interaction with DMX, Vanzant said that he called her the “B word” numerous times and was so aggressive that security had to be on standby.

He read the Bible and prayed publicly, referenced God in his music as well as the devil. DMX was a man of contradictions.

Michael Eric Dyson, professor and minister, tweeted, “The late great #DMX fused raw Black pain, personal suffering, the struggle with his many demons and an incurable quest for Christian salvation and redemption in music and lyrics—and prayers—that toured hell to provide a plan of escape. May his soul Rest in Peace #RIP DMX.”

If the Rev. Dr. Dyson’s description is accepted, I’m not surprised to discover that this puzzle of a man loved and cultivated orchids. Orchids are the largest plant family in the world, presenting in a variety of forms. As numerous as they are, they can also be rare and precioussome of the most expensive plants in the world.

In a description of one of the lesser-known orchids, Tom Mirenda, horticulturalist and renowned expert on the cultivation of orchids, wrote, “Every orchid has an interesting story. Once you look beyond their beauty, other captivating qualities emerge about virtually all of them.” The orchid Mirenda was writing about was ugly and it also stank! (“Meet Stinky ‘Bucky,’ the Bulbophyllum that Shutdown a Smithsonian Greenhouse,” Smithsonian Magazine)

From a very limited sense of the man based on a cursory review of his public life, I think that DMX loved orchids because he was as mysterious, layered, and rare as they are. He was a prominent example of the complexities that make us human.

R.I.P. Earl Simmons, a.k.a. DMX.

One response to “The Mystery, Layers, and Rarity of DMX

  1. I had no idea: thanks for this

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