The Big Q&A: DMX’s 1st Jailhouse Interview: Hating Rap Trends, Ja-Rule, Issues w/ Jay-Z and More (Pt.2)
VIBE.com presents part 2 of our exclusive interview with incarcerated rapper DMX. The multi-platinum selling artist is set be released to the free world early next month and plans to hit the ground running with a new album and reality show. Read on for more on X’s thoughts on today’s rap game, Ja-Rule, his issues with Jay-Z and more.—Mikey Fresh
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Have any rappers reached out to you while you were away want to work when you get home or to just give you some support?
Yeah. Swizz, Busta, Dame Grease, —it’s like when it happens it is appreciated, but I don’t dwell on it. I’m like ‘Oh that’s wassup. Tell him I said what up too’ and I let it go. I pretty much got a lot of people in my corner. I’m the People’s Champ. Oh ,that was another [album] title I was gonna use too, The People’s Champ.
Is it weird seeing the rap game now and seeing most of your peers that you came in the game with just not around anymore?
I’m not gonna disrespect anybody or shout anybody out, but it’s sad the shit I’m seeing here. All we got is 106 & Park in jail. And it’s like ‘wow, this is the Top 10?’ Like really? I know it’s really not the Top 10, but it’s their Top 10. Damn yo, that’s not a good look. Not a good look at all. I do like Nicki Minaj—how she getting at em. Haven’t heard the album, but the couple of singles I’ve heard—“Did It On Em,” you know what I’m saying? That “Boom boom boom.” Some shit, “Bang”—whatever. I like her style. And Kiss got a new joint too that I’m feeling.
Speaking of Nicki, how are you feeling about Lil Wayne and Drake?
Hmmm…no comment. I don’t like Drake. It’s nothing that he did to me, He actually is talented. He’s very talented.
So you’re just not feeling his music then?
Yeah, I don’t like him. It ain’t nothing personal. I don’t like his stuff. He is talented. He has a little wordplay here and there, but when I see him and here him it’s like—‘Money, I’m not rockin with that.’
It feels like right now in hip-hop a lot of people are saying the hardcore gangsta rap element is dead. Do you feel like that’s true?
They try to block it out. But that’s what rap is. It’s not about disrespecting, but it’s the voice of the voiceless. Before I tell you what it is. To me, it isn’t tight sweaters. That’s not what rap is. That’s not hip-hop at all. Every phase went through changing up their dress styles and all that, but since Run DMC came out it’s been baggy jeans. That has not changed. So all this shit they doing now, tryna spark something new, that’s basically what it is. Tryna spark something new to get people to say yeah–to stake the claim as the innovators. The creators. Like, ‘yeah we started this so we must be hip-hop because everybody’s doing it.’ No! You got a few little motherfuckers following you, doing the same shit, but that’s not what it is man.
[Laughs] But I mean fashion has to evolve just like the music, no?
Yeah, the fucking skinny jeans and tight sweaters! Those are baby clothes. What are you shopping at Baby Gap??? [Laughs]
[Laughs] It’s just what people want to do now. Even some of the older rappers–they’re all getting their clothes tighter now?
You know, its cause they’re just following. They just want to fit in. They want to look like they’re younger I guess. Like I said, one thing about ‘real’ is that it doesn’t change. The truth doesn’t change. It was the same when Moses got the Ten Commandments as it is today. That’s the thing about the truth. That’s the thing about real. It doesn’t change and it doesn’t have to change. Now you can put it in a different book, but it’s still real. It’s still the truth. And that’s what I’m bringing to the table.
So I guess when X comes home, it’s still gonna be baggy jeans and Timbs. You’re not going to see X dancing around in some tight jeans.
I think I’m gonna wear Timberlands until I die man. They may not be the hottest thing out, but Timbs keep reinventing themselves. They keep coming up with the new colors, the different bubbles, now you can get your name on them. Timbs is still on fire right now!
Still killing it.
Yeah! And that’s all I—I do not own a pair of sneakers or shoes.
Word? Not even Air Force Ones?
No, none of that. I put on a pair of sneakers when I came to jail. They gave me these sneakers. Then, I felt like retarded. I felt retarded just having a pair of sneakers on in at least 10 years.
So I guess you’re not really influenced by anything current in hip-hop?
Yeah. It’s like normally, when I’m in the streets, I don’t look at videos. I don’t go to concerts. Nas is the only person whose concert I been to. I don’t go to shows—I don’t want to be influenced by what someone else is doing. I don’t want to be influenced by anything that anyone is doing. I want to be influenced by the people.
Then where do you still draw inspiration from?
From the people! I walk amongst the people. I hear what their complaints are. I hear what they like. They tell me what they’re looking for. I can be hanging out with about 7 or 8 guys and we’ll see something and I’ll be like ‘aight so I was right in thinking that not to go that way.’ I get to stay on the same page as the fans, because I walk amongst the fans. You can’t speak for the people unless you’re able to walk amongst the people. And how many of these rappers out here actually hang out with regular people.
Exactly! But I do. People see me in the mall. I might have one or two dudes with me, but they ain’t no rappers. I talk to my fans and because I’m easy to talk to, they feel comfortable in telling me what they’re looking for. ‘X when you gonna come out with this’, ‘X, you need to come out with something like this’—I hear it all the time about how they don’t like the skinny jeans and the shit that’s on the radio right now.
It seems like now, rappers are really making a trend of coming in and out of jail. I don’t know if you heard but Prodigy just came home, T.I.’s locked up right now.
How long did Prodigy do?
Prodigy did almost 3 ½ on a gun charge. He just came home.
And Ja just went in, right?
Yup. Have you had any contact with him? I know you guys had some issues in the past.
Yeah since we had issues, we’ve had contact. But I saw him at the VH1 hip-hop Honors.
Yeah I saw there was a picture of you, Foxy, and Ja altogether.
Yeah. It was like, I was sitting in the front and his wife was behind me. And I looked back and I spoke to her. And when I turned around again—actually I was getting up to leave and he was sitting there. So people were already looking at us and knew that I didn’t know he was behind me. It was quiet. So when I turned around and seen him, I could feel all the eyes on me. And I was like ‘Yo watup man’ and gave him a pound and everybody started clapping.
Did you guys have any more words?