Here I Am
Interview: Clover Hope Images: Jonathan Mannion
In honor of the 10-year anniversary of DMXís classic 1998 debut Itís Dark and Hell Is Hot, XXL tracked down the elusive Dark Man X in Arizona to discuss what it was like making the album (that story in the May issue, on stands now). We also got the scoop on his present state of mind. In December 2007, having been released from his Sony contract earlier in the year, X inked a deal with Bodog Music, a division of the Canadian online gaming company Bodog Entertainment. Due later this year, his next projects are two separate albums called Walk With Me Now and Youíll Fly With Me Later. The former disc will be devoted to straight rap, while the latter is Xís first gospel-rap endeavor, which comes as no surprise given his spiritual background. Both feature production by his longtime collaborators Swizz Beatz, PK and Davine Bars. In the last week of January we caught up with the Yonkers MC and chatted about the status of his current project, the shape rap is in, and some guy named Obama.
Thereís talk of a new album for you. Whenís that coming out, like whatís up with that? Can you tell me what stage youíre at as far as recording?
Well, Iím bout to start working on the gospel album.
Yeah, the gospel album. Itís like a double album right?
Itís two different albums. Two albums, separate albums. I got a couple more tracks to do on it and thatís done. Itís the first time anybody did anything like thisótwo separate albums on the same day.
What made you want to release a gospel album now?
Iíve done gospel songs on every album. I figured Iíd just dedicate a whole album to it.
Right. Can you tell me signing to Bodog, how that came about?
I donít even really remember how it came about. Some real shit, I donít remember who did what about what. I remember when I met Ďem it was in Miami.
You met who?
I met, you know, the people from Bodog in Miami and we had dinner and it was just a good vibe, good energy.
When was that? Do you remember?
But you were still signed to Sony at the time?
Nah, I had already gotten a release.
What happened with the situation at Sony? You werenít happy there, right?
Nah, they did my whole shitóthey just fucked my whole project up.
As far as marketing and stuff?
Every way. Every possible way.
So as far as this album, what should people expect from this album? Whatís your mind state? What kind of songs are you doing?
Banging joints, just like the last album. Just banging joints. Iíll have a couple of íem on my MySpace page in a couple days.
Okay, youíre on MySpace now?
I been there.
How do you feel about the digitalólike, everything going through the Internet as far asÖ
I donít even think about it. I donít even think about it.
The music business is pretty much going in that direction.
I donít know. Thatís justÖ thatís probably notÖ People want the actual CDs not no shit thatís disposable.
Itís like the ringtone rappers are the guys that are selling right now.
Good for them, good for them. Iím glad they eating right now.
You donít feel a certain way about that.
Nah, I donít even think about it, for real. I mean, itís a waste of energy to think about what somebody else is doing and how they doing it. Iíma just do what I do. All that shit is a headache.
What do you think about where the rap game is right now? Do you think itís in a good space? íCause rap sales are down.
Weíre coming around to a good space. Quietly, a good position.
Sales are down, though.
It goes in cycles.
Right, but do you think thereís a reason that rap isnít selling like it was in your day?
Yeah ícause niggas ainít saying nothing. People ainít saying nothing. Ainít but so many peopleÖ Some people buy records just to dance to íem. Some people buy records to listen to the radio. And thereís people that buy records ícause they listen to every song. They not feeding the people properly.
You mean the artists?
Yeah, the artists. Itís the same ole bullshit. Thatís how it get. There has to be some fuckiní substance.
Do you think itís a good thing that Southern music is pretty much dominating the game? Thereís no cats from New York, you know. It seems like there hasnít been in awhile. What do you think about that?
What do I think about Southern music?
I really donít think about it.
You donít think about it?
I really donít care for it. To focus on other shit is a fuckiní headache.
Right. So what artists are you listening to right now?
Same ones I been listening toóNas and Scarface.
Nas and Scarface?
Yep, Nas and Scarface.
Have you recorded any songs for the new album?
Yeah, half the album is pretty much done, the gospel album.
Can you tell me about some of the songs, a couple of the songs that you did?
Like, what do you wanna know?
What was the first songÖ
The single is a joint called ďAll Ready.Ē
What were you doing in betweenófrom the last album to this one, that whole time? What have you been up to?
Life. I been up to that. Itís been crazy. Fuckiní police keep on fuckiní raiding my house and shit for nothing. They took all my fuckiní guns. All they did is take is take my guns. All they fuckiní do is fuck my house up and take my guns. Thatís all they did. Straight robbed meóthatís what they did.
Are you happy with how your last two albums did as far as sales?
Oh yeah, Iím happy. Iím happy with whatever they do.
Would you ever think about becoming the president of a label, like running your own label?
There was a video on the Internet recently, I donít know if you saw it, like with you in the studio.
Nah, didnít see it.
It was like you in the studio and I guess some other producer and you were recording some songs and you were talking about some random stuff. Do you remember that?
Yeah, I think so.
People were really concerned about you or whatever.
That was a while ago. I didnít see it.
Do you remember when you were in the studio?
Vaguely. Iíd just flown in or something. I know I was tired as a muthafucka.
Tired from recording?
I just flew in. I just flew in.
Do you worry about people getting the wrong perception of you?
No, I really donít. People could say what they want. I donít really care. I donít give a fuck.
Anything thatís not positive, I donít have the energy to focus on it. Anything thatís not going in the right direction I donít have the time or the energy. If somebody step to my face, Iíma take care of íem, thatís something different. What people think, I donít give a fuck about none of that shit ícause they ainít putting money in my pocket. They ainít taking no money out of my pocket. They all suck dick when they see me so it really doesnít matter.
Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.
Youíre not? You know thereís a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then thereís Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!
Barack Obama, yeah.
What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?
Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
What the fuck?! That ainít no fuckiní name, yo. That ainít that niggaís name. You canít be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.
Youíre telling me you havenít heard about him before.
I ainít really paying much attention.
I mean, itís pretty big if a BlackÖ
Wow, Barack! The niggaís name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ainít his fuckiní name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, ďStop that bullshit. Stop that bullshitĒ [laughs] ďThat ainít your fuckiní name.Ē Your momma ainít name you no damn Barack.
So youíre not following the race. You canít vote right?
Is that why youíre not following it?
No, because itís justóit doesnít matter. Theyíre gonna do what theyíre gonna do. It doesnít really make a difference. These are the last years.
But it would be pretty big if we had a first Black president. That would be huge.
I mean, I guessÖ. What, they goní give a dog a bone? There you go. Ooh, we have a Black president now. They shouldíve done that shit a long time ago, we wouldnít be in the fuckiní position we in now. With world war coming up right now. They done fucked this shit up then give it to the Black people, ďHere you take it. Take my mess.Ē
Itís all a fuckiní setup. Itís all a setup. All fuckiní bullshit. All bullshit. I donít give a fuck about none of that.
We could have a female president also, Hillary Clinton.
I mean, either way it doesnít matter. I donít care. No one person is directly affected by which president, you know, so what does it matter.
Yeah, but the country is.
I guess. The president is a puppet anyway. The president donít make no damn decisions.
The presidentÖthey donít have that much authority basically?
But Bush pretty muchÖ
You think Bush is making fuckiní decisions?
He did, yeah, he fucked up the country.
He act like he making decisions. He could barely speak! He could barely fuckiní speak!
Canít be serious. He ainít making no damn decisions.
Well Barack has a good chance of winning so that might be something.
Good for him, good for him.
Howís your family and your kids?
Theyíre good. My son is rapping now.
Did he see you? Iím sure he was inspired by you.
Yeah, yeah. all that. Took him to shows and everything.
What does your wife Tashera think about him rapping?
She likes it. Sheís the one who told me. She told me.
Did you talk to him? What do you tell him about the industry? Do you give him advice about the industry?
He knows it, he knows all that shit. Ah, man. I give him some advice.
What kind of advice do you give him? Like, watch out for, you knowÖ
Advice about life, advice about girls, whatever a father would tell his son. Everything. Advice about everything. Everything. Advice about everything.
Do you think youíve been a good father up ítil now?
[Pauses] I donít know. Iíve done the best that I could.
I guess you never know, right?
Theyíre all well mannered. I hope I instilled something positive in íem.
Would you ever do a secondólike, your reality show again? íCause the first one did pretty well.
Yeah, I will.
After that Snoop had a show and Irv Gotti so it kind of kicked off the reality shows after you did it. Right?
Yeah I guess. Good for them. Everybodyís doing it big.
What do you think about Lil Wayne? People think heís the hottest rapper.
He is nowhere near the hottest nothing right now. You canít be serious.
Why do you say that? Heís on like every song.
He has to do that.
Is there anybody that youíre excited about? Are there any new rappers that youíre excited about?
What was the last time you got excited about a new rapper? When was the last time that you really liked somebody that was coming out?
I donít recall being excited about a new rapper ever.
Is it that bad?
No itís not that bad. I just donít, Iím real picky about what I fuck with.
Right, you donít really listen to other people?
Nah, not really.
All right, well is there anything else that I missed? Anything that youíre working on?
Working on life.
Working on life.
Yeah, working on life.
Are you happy right now?
I donít wanna be happy.
íCause when you happy you get locked in sleep. You get sleepy happy. I always wanna be on point. I always wanna be aware.
Right, ícause when youíre happy you think youíre safe and you donítÖ
Yeah, you get sleepy happy.