Put ’Em In Their Place
It’s no secret that DMX is a troubled man. With his constant run-ins with the law putting his reckless behavior on the front page, it’s hard to remember that DMX’s fame used to be all about the music. As one of the highest selling rappers of the ’90s, DMX helped squash jiggy rap’s dominance and bring his former label Def Jam back to prominence. After his first three releases went at least triple platinum, his next two albums, Grand Champ and The Great Depression, sold significantly less. Amidst legal troubles and rumors of drug use, X’s 2005 Def Jam album We In Here saw its release stalled, which prompted the Dog to leave his longtime label. Now on Sony Records, he’s betting on a new record called The Year Of The Dog…Again and a BET reality show to return him to his rightful place. But can he silence his demons long enough to focus on success? XXLMAG.COM caught up with a frazzled X on an after hours phone call to find out how he got where he is today.
Your last two albums sold about a third of your previous three albums. What did you lose?
Nothing at all. Actually, you know what? I did lose something. Promotions. That’s what I lost on the last album. I had people coming up to me after the album was out like, “Yo dog, when your new album coming out?” Everybody thought it was coming out at a different time or something.
How is Sony treating your project different than Def Jam would have?
Well, at least they care. That’s enough for me. We see the same vision. I go to shows now, I see the street team all over the place. Def Jam just fell off, man. I was gonna go independent [after leaving Def Jam]. I was gonna go to Koch, but Sony, they hollered.
You’ve said in the past that you felt Def Jam was making business decisions based on their personal feelings. What did you mean by that?
Like, muthafuckas is emotional. They didn’t like me. They couldn’t control me, so they thought they would teach me a lesson.
So you don’t think it had anything to do with the quality of your music?
Not at all.
A lot of people credit your early success for saving Def Jam in the late ’90s. It must have hurt to see them brush you off, given your important role in their history.
Yeah, big time. I lost my love for it for a minute. The passion. I didn’t want to do it no more because of that. It was just constant blows and then I was like, Man, fuck this shit.
Def Jam made your album one of Jay-Z’s first projects after being appointed to President. Given that you guys have so much history together, did that make you upset?
I wasn’t mad. He should have did his fuckin’ job though. He actually did me really greasy, yo. [Jay] came down, listened to the album and was like, “Yo, this is hot, let’s do it! Let’s move on it right away!” Then as soon as he went back to New York, he went on vacation.
Did you feel like he was avoiding you?
I don’t know what the fuck he was doing, but it was like [my album] wasn’t that important. And then, I’m shooting the video for the single and he comes all the fuckin’ way down to Miami and he doesn’t even come to the shoot to say what up. I thought the nigga was supposed to be my man. We in the same city at the same time? Come on, say what up. What the fuck? He didn’t want to see me. After those two moves I was like, Yo, this shit is not happening.
Since you’ve left the label, have you had any contact with Jay?
No, I haven’t talked to him at all. I don’t want to talk to him. Ain’t nothing to fuckin’ talk about.
So do you think that fucked up your personal relationship with Jay too?
You had the Bloodline situation over at Def Jam, which looked like it was going to pop off for a minute. What happened?
The same shit, man…[talking to someone in the room] Mmmmm. You gon’ laugh it up and all that! Da-da! [Laughs] Eat them chips, baby!
You busy over there?
Yeah, I got my daughter with me. Say it again?
What happened to the Bloodline Records deal on Def Jam?
Same shit. They halfway promoted it. The first album I put out on Bloodline Records was the soundtrack to Cradle 2 The Grave. As soon as they made their money back, they stopped selling it. Like, fuck that, we ain’t selling no more. They only gave me one video. After they did the soundtrack like that, I wasn’t really fuckin’ with it anymore. We could have made money. They ain’t care about making money. They just wanted to be like, “Fuck you, X.”
If they didn’t care about making money, what did they care about?
I just told you, man! They just wanted to keep me at a certain level. They did not want me to do well. They did not want me to sell any records.
But if you’re signed to their label, it seems like they would want you to sell as many records as possible.
Yes, it makes sense for them to want me to sell records, but it’s an ego thing. Like, Fuck that, we’re gonna show him that he’s gonna do what we tell him to do.
There was a rumor that Irv Gotti had squashed your beef with Ja, but then on the new SMACK DVD, you’re going off on Ja again.
Nah, I don’t fuck with Ja. Gotti wanted us to work together again, but I told him, “I need 5 minutes alone with Ja in a room before we work out anything. I need to get my hands on him.”
What would you do in those 5 minutes?
Beat him up! I need 5 minutes alone with him so I can beat him up!
You also said in the DVD interview how you saved his life in Chicago. What exactly happened?
He wouldn’t have made it out the airport. I had like 50 Latin Kings with me. One of them was like, “Is that that nigga?” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s him.” And then one of them was like, “Let me know, dog. He doesn’t have to leave the airport.” Then I thought about it for like a minute, and then I was like, “You know what? It ain’t even that serious.” I mean, I wasn’t gonna kill him, but they was gonna kill a nigga right there in the airport. But I just wanna beat him up, I don’t want to kill him.