DMX was a once-in-a-lifetime generational superstar with all the accolades one would kill to achieve in the entertainment world. Rapper, poet, pastor, motivational speaker, actor, songwriter. He has everything you need for rockstar status for sure. However, what most people fell in love with Dark Man X was his poetry. His music is timeless and for many reasons. After the passing of 2pac, hip-hop was in the “Shiny Suit Era.” “Bling-bling” was celebrated more than ever. The reason we have “bussdown” anthems today.

Hip-hop was missing that edgy, raw, and uncut appeal that folks from around the world connected with nearly on a spiritual level. DMX embodies darkness, passion, pain, and breaks down what it means to battle your demons. His legacy in hip-hop will live on forever as his music details his life in 4K. What are some songs that give you those details? Music Movies & Hoops got 10 in store for you now.

10. N****z Done Started Something

If there is one thing DMX is going to do it is put together some incredible MCs just so he can box with them one-by-one bar after bar. He wastes no time after the first loop and before the hook is finished warning you that if you press him you’ll be just as an aborted child. “Don’t come at me with no bullshit! Use caution. Cuz when I wet shit, I dead shit like abortions.”

Punchlines like this that hit on impact and are placed at the opening of the verse are just another day at the office for X. He carries this energy until the bitter end of a sinister Dame Grease beat that sounds like some shit Michael Myers would end his sister with if he liked rap. X, thank you for this verse.

9. We Don’t Give a Fuck (feat. Styles P & Judakiss)

Jadakiss with a lethal hook, DMX venting about a former comrade who pulled a Fredo from The Godfather, and Styles P replying to DMX with an assuring message of undying loyalty to the point of suggesting to kill the former comrade, make this Ruff Ryder posse cut a top 5 rank in best songs from X’s sophomore album. If you are a DMX fan, then you know that he is big on loyalty and brotherhood. He is ride-or-die for his dogs, and he just wants that loyalty back.

In this track, he opens up on the sting of betrayal that he felt from a man he thought was on the same side as him. He experiences suspicions that would be confirmed through the actions of the former friend. Styles P tells X he is willing to assist him in the demise of the man who betrayed the Dark Man’s loyalty. He has to pay for biting the hand that fed him. DMX knows the ex-friend is a coward and cannot see him man-to-man. He separates himself from the bullshit altogether and stays down with the ones that he still considers his dogs.

8. Don’t Gotta Go Home

If this song is not in your “Thug Love” playlist then you are doing it wrong. How you did it wrong, I don’t know. This is what I do know as a DMX fan: DMX and Monica created one of the greatest and arguably most underrated hip-hop and R&B collabs of all-time. “I mean we all men. We know how this shit go. Love one, fuck another. I mean, it is what it is. It is what it is.”

This song is top 10 side piece anthems. DMX and Monica are on the phone. Things are not going well at home with DMX and Monica just wants to be the one to comfort him at her spot. He asks, “You got time for a nigga? Or is he still with you? Want to meet at the same spot, or should I come and get you?” Monica reminds him that he is not happy being in the position that he is in as another woman’s husband and father of her children. She is still supportive of him and wants to keep their connection strong. “But it’s the same ol’ song, wife and fam. Gotta be a father and husband, but I’m STILL yo man.” If you need the soundtrack to a situationship, keep in mind of this track to set the vibe right.

7. Who We Be

You want to know why the streets clung to DMX so heavily and immortalized his music? DMX’s music articulated the darkest corners of major cities in the US the same way Malcolm X articulated the everyday plight of Black America. Black Key’s production on this track gives X room to breathe and not show off his flows too much, yet stays at a steady pocket with the beat as he details who and what he represents. “The roaches, the rats, the strays, the cats. The guns, knives, and bats. Every time I scrap.”

He unloads with the pressures that people from every hood, every project, and every ghetto have to face and survive. There is nothing pretty about being from these parts of the world where the bottom line is met with resistance and that your resistance to your circumstances will determine your existence. Decisions have to be made, and sometimes they are desperate. If you are unfamiliar with these parts of the world, well you are one of “them.” We don’t fuck with them because “They don’t know who we be.”

6. Ruff Ryders’ Anthem

If you know these lyrics, you know damn well you are singing them loud and proud. “Stop! Drop! Shut ‘em down, open up shop! Oh! No! That’s how Ruff Ryders roll!” Simple, catchy, straight to the jugular. This song is essential because it raised the Ruff Ryder flag high, signaling that hip-hop is under a new government. DMX is not your lyrical miracle kind of rapper and that does not matter. “What was that look for? When I walked through the door. Oh, you thought you was raw? BOOM! Not anymore.”

DMX let it be known the Ruff Ryders bout whatever and hope you give a reason for them to prove it. Some people would say 50 Cent was the first drill rapper. Hard to disagree. Dissect those DMX bars though? This man is talking about blaming you onsight, taking everything out of your pockets, all to a hype beat that you can sing along with. Somehow this song snuck its way to the mainstream and is on everyone’s DMX playlist.

5. What They Really Want (feat. Sisqo)

In today’s times of gender wars, playin, macking, and “WAP,” this song stands the test of time in asking the age-old question that most men face at some point in their lifetime. Unlike the track “Don’t Gotta Go Home,” where the main character understands the needs and wants of the woman of interest, “It was Brenda, Latisha, Linda, Felica, Dawn, Lashawn, Ines, and Alicia..” this hit is about women not communicating their desires in their dealings with DMX.

Even Sisqo responds to the chaos of the woman race with, “One thing you gotta know: Ima be a nigga for life!” DMX asks what is on a lot of men’s minds to the melodic background vocals of Sisqo’s runs, making this song one of the most well-meshed hip-hop and R&B artist collabs to date.

4. Ain’t No Sunshine

You just may miss out on some heat if you do not pay attention to the movie soundtracks. Especially in some of the most noticeable tracks from the “Exit Wounds” soundtrack. “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers is a timeless masterpiece speaking on missing the feeling of things that are no longer good for you–such as downward spiraling relationships.

DMX made a u-turn in this remix. He completely said fuck that other side on this gritty soundtrack to vengeance and wrath. “Thinking it’s alright, keep playing in that role and you gonna know tonight when you laying in that hole.” There is no sunshine when you are at war. There is only darkness every day for as long as you are alive to battle. It is better to be a step ahead and stay sharp than to fall even an inch behind. DMX lets his opponent know shit is getting critical for them and that they shook hands with darkness fucking with him. This is where Dark Man X shines his brightest in forefronting the dark energy of hip-hop with gripping bars of getting that upper hand.

3. What’s My Name?

Energy. Energy. Energy. The beat. The lyrics. It feels like running out of the tunnel with your team going in for a repeat for the championship. Picture a UFC fighter coming out to this song. He will be ready to kill and will still want more. DMX spells his name with his chest while screaming, “WHAT’S MY NAME??!” at the top of his lungs to get his point across to the rap game that he is not one to be played with. “DMX and I be the best. You see the rest? They lookin like they need a rest!” DMX at this point is two albums in and both go platinum. He is putting out the best product on the airwaves. His energy on this song, like its cousins “Party Up” and “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” makes for one of DMX’s standout high-energy anthems.

2. Murdergram

The original “Murda Inc,” DMX, Ja Rule, and Jay-Z, was a collaboration that looked like the 2012 Heats post-Death Row era hip- hop. They gave the gritty New York sound that revived east coast hip-hop after the rivalry between the east and west coast. In this track, we hear Jay-Z get into another bag. Was it Jigga? Yeah, of course. But this was a much darker side. We got to hear an up-and-coming Ja Rule set the precedent that he is the next leader of a newer sound to the game.

We are also hearing DMX at home. Comfortable, in a zone that would give birth to vicious verses as “N****z Done Started Something.” This verse is where Dark Man X sheds light on living the life of a “cruddy nigga.” No fucks given, strapped with bloody weapons, and as sexually irresponsible as you can disgustingly get. Jay-Z’s “Streets is Watching” soundtrack gives us one of the most threatening and malicious verses that makes you feel concerned for any man who breathes out of the wrong nostril next to DMX. “A fuckin snake in the truest form. Knowing damn well what I do is wrong, but still I do it strong.” I think these lyrics speak for themselves.

1. Slippin’

This is where you get to know DMX. He poetically breaks down the struggle of falling from grace in some of the worst ways imaginable. He carries the burden of guilt, shame, and hate for his old ways that led him to a life of crime and cyclical prison time. He details falling deeper and deeper into the depths of his demons through consuming drugs and alcohol. His childhood that included neglect from both parents was the foundation for his road to becoming a Ruff Ryder. “Was it my fault? Something I did? To make a father leave his first kid. At 7 doing my first bid.”

DMX understood he was far from perfect and was on the road of “heading nowhere fast.” The birth of his son inspired him to leave his vices in the past and move forward in his life with a new life to celebrate. “I gots to do the right thing for shorty. And that means no more getting high, drinking 40s.” He knows he is slippin’. He also knows that does not matter. What matters is that he gets back on his feet so he can tear shit up. 

No one articulated battling their demons with the conviction and passion that DMX did. He let the world in on his life and poured his soul into every line. It’s not easy accepting your circumstances and fighting them to get closer to the light. Sometimes we get comfortable in the darkness. Especially when that’s all that we know. Who was better to tell that story than Dark Man X. We miss you, dawg. Gone, but will never be forgotten. The dog, the dark, DMX.