I’ve always liked DMX’s persona. That, of course, comes with some qualifiers. I had to ignore the violent and misogynistic imagery in most of his lyrics, which I was much more willing to do in X’s heyday a decade ago, than now. I liked his music, like it still, for the growling voice over Swizz Beats lyrics, the passion X spits his lyrics, and the overall energy of his music, which unexpectedly, has held up over time.
But I digress.
Over a decade since his prime, the drum for DMX beats on. He’s as relevant as ever—but mostly for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he hopped on stage during the Alicia Keys’ concert at MSG and the crowd went wild. But these days, his name makes headlines usually for his latest arrests. The offenses include driving without a license, drug possession, animal cruelty and perhaps most baffling of all, impersonating a FBI agent. Then there’s his alleged ten children, most of which were conceived outside of his marriage, which still hasn’t been dissolved. His estranged wife, Tashera has been on “Starter Wives Confidential” discussing their relationship, and written a book about it. Together, they have been featured on “Couples Therapy”, then most recently on “Iyanla’s Fix My Life.”
In case his ongoing erratic behavior over the years didn’t clue you in that something is wrong with X, his appearance on the latter two shows, and specifically on Sunday’s Iyanla, Fix My Life should have. He was twitchy, nervous, switching seamlessly between shucking responsibility, martyrdom, rage, guilt tripping and rambling so much that Iyanla finally just asked DMX what everyone watching at home was thinking, “Are you high?”
He said, “no.” In a post-show interview with Jet magazine, X insisted again that he was sober. In a separate interview, his son, Xavier was asked if his dad was high and said, “I don’t know.” That Vanzant, or anybody else, even had to ask said enough. There was a collective agreement—on Black Twitter, at least— that he was lying anyway.
I don’t know exactly what is wrong with ol’ Earl “DMX” Simmons or what he needs. That’s over my head. But I know what he doesn’t need is cameras trained on him for viewers to sit at home and gawk at him, feel pity for him, or worse, laugh at his disease.
Whatever was going on during Sunday night’s show, whether X was, high and/or otherwise unwell, either from unresolved trauma or an undiagnosed disorder, he shouldn’t have been allowed on TV in that state of mind. Yes, I know X asked to participate, but someone with a level head should have turned him down to appear on camera, arranged a private consultation or at least delayed his appearance until he was clearly sober and tested to be sure.
That’s asking a lot of a producer who’s getting paid to give good show and knows DMX unhinged will make for remarkably more interesting TV than if he appeared clean. But when we’re talking about a man in the throes of addiction. Choosing “good” TV— where DMX will showcased his downfall, twitches, denial, flip outs and all— over the “right” thing to do is habitually line-stepping between entertainment and exploitation, perhaps even crossing it.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk