‘He Has No Idea It’s 2012’: An Evening with DMX at S.O.B’s in NYC

DMX played a show at S.O.B.’s in New York City last night, and it was one of the most amazing live events I’ve attended. I will also openly admit that I could not have handled it less professionally. I went to the DMX show as a fan, but I had planned on writing about what took place at the concert at length in addition to being there for some enjoyment.

When I woke up this morning, I took a glance at the notes I jotted down on my phone.

Rembert’s DMX show notes:

  • Flesh of my flesh, BLOOD OF MY BLOOD
  • It’s not a FUCKING GAME
  • We Right Here
  • Who We Be
  • One More Road to Cross
  • Swizz Beats
  • Money power
  • Touch it
  • How’s it going down, his shirt is off
  • Fuck all day, fuck all night
  • He has no idea that it’s 2012
  • DMX is dancing
  • Pouring alcohol on girl
  • Growled guy off stage
  • Keeps kicking people off stage
  • Shorts are falling off
  • Preaching
  • One N***a from Maine
  • Two from Vermont
  • New songs booooo
  • KATO
  • When your most pop song is “Party Up,” WOW
  • DMX would beat me up
  • Sip and Pass
  • Sermon
  • Throws up the X
  • This is a cult

That’s it.

To give some context for this gibberish:

  • The first two notes are call-and-response chants that DMX employed throughout the show. The next three were my short-lived attempt at keeping up with the set list. Next is “Swizz Beats,” because Swizz Beats came on stage.
  • The next two involve two songs DMX did guest spots on, “Money, Power, Respect” and “Touch It (Remix).” At some point, DMX did “How’s It Goin’ Down” and, for the ladies, he took his shirt off, which stayed off for the remainder of the show.
  • The next note, “Fuck all day, fuck all night,” contains lyrics from “It’s All Good.”
  • The next seven notes, “He has no idea it’s 2012” through “Preaching,” are simply me observing what is happening, which is many a shenanigan. “One N***a from Maine” and “Two from Vermont” were DMX’s attempt to do a geographical scan of the crowd. In his mind, there was probably a single “N***a” from Maine and at most, two from Vermont. Three-fourths of the way through the show, DMX played three new songs, which really sucked some of the energy out of the crowd. With that said, at the moment when the crowd was at its least energetic, that was still more energy than any concert I’ve ever been to. I capitalized “KATO” — as in the beautiful song to his fallen friend, “A ‘Yo Kato” — because I love that song and he did a very nice version of it.
  • The following two notes are instances of me thinking aloud. “Sip and Pass” is a game DMX likes to play where he opens a bottle of liquor and passes it around the crowd. Truthfully, if we’re being accurate about what took place last night, the game should be retitled “Sip, Pass, or let DMX pour it on you if you’re a woman.”
  • The next note, “Sermon” is in reference to how he ended the show, with a sermon, and once he was finished, the entire crowd followed his lead by throwing up the “X.” The final note, “This is a cult,” is simply me admitting that I am a card-carrying member of the cult led by DMX.

That’s it.

While I’m slightly embarrassed at my lack of concern for my assignment last night, I had no chance from the get-go. I never should have trusted myself to fully report on a DMX show. The previous day I spoke to him on the phone and the way he answered my questions with such passion and lack of concern for my existence transported me to my teenage days of listening to Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and … And Then There Was X as quietly as I could through my Walkman headphones in the passenger seat.

Rembert: Hi, is this DMX? I’m calling from Grantland.
Manager: You’re calling from who?
Rembert: Grantland.
Manager: No, it’s his manager. OK, but you gotta keep this short.

[30 second pause]

Dark Man X: Hello?
Rembert Man X: DMX?
Dark Man X: Yeah, what up?
Rembert Man X: Hey, I know you’re running late so I’ll keep this quick.
Dark Man X: OK, thank you.
Rembert Man X: Do you have a sense of the buzz surrounding this New York show? How does that make you feel as a veteran rapper?
Dark Man X: It’s a wonderful feeling and I realize it’s a blessing.
Rembert Man X: Growing up I knew black kids, white kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids who knew all the lyrics to your early records. What do you think it was about your music that appealed to such a wide range of people?
Dark Man X: I was a breath of fresh air.
Rembert Man X: Why did you decide to change the name of this new album from Redemption of the Beast to Undisputed?
Dark Man X: Well, I feel like I am the people’s champ.
Rembert Man X: Are there rappers or artists from other genres that you listen to? Who are you paying a lot of attention to?
Dark Man X: Scarface, I listen to Jay-Z’s first album, um … I fuckin’ love Drake.
Rembert Man X: Really?
Dark Man X: No, no, that was a joke.
Rembert Man X: Ha ha, so you really, really don’t like Drake?
Dark Man X: Yeah, I really, really don’t like him. Not at all.
Rembert Man X: Is it his music? Is it his persona?
Dark Man X: I don’t like his voice. His persona. He is talented, he is, I’ll give him that. But why is he whining everything? Whining.
Rembert Man X: You brought up Jay. Did you listen to Jay and Kanye’s Watch the Throne album?
Dark Man X: I heard a few songs. Not a fan.
Rembert Man X: But you still like old Jay?
Dark Man X: Yeah, first album. Reasonable Doubt.
Rembert Man X: Gotcha. Well I understand you’re in a time crunch. I’m excited for the show tomorrow.
Dark Man X: Are you gonna be there?
Rembert Man X: Yeah, I’ll definitely be there. I’ll be one of the few journalists with a Ruff Ryders T-shirt on.
Dark Man X: A’ight man.

That conversation got me so pumped for the show that once I was in the middle of the DMX cult, surrounded by other people (mostly young male adults of a similar age), I couldn’t fight the urge to be an angsty kid again. As “Ruff Ryders Anthem” turned into “Get It on the Floor” which turned into “Get at Me Dog,” which launched into “Money, Power, Respect,” the rap-off among my cohorts became the only thing that mattered. As DMX performed onstage like Y2K had never happened, here I was, surrounded by peers, rapping every single lyric as passionately as he was. Every single one. Neither I nor Dark Man had missed a beat. Everyone was impressed with everyone.

Filed Under: We Went there

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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