Photograph by Reshma B

DMX Calls On God and Havoc Reps For The Mobb

“There is a blessing in every curse,” said DMX, standing on stage at the 13th annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. “You just gotta get past the self-pity and look for it.”

Earlier this week the rapper born Earl Simmons was arrested on multiple charges of tax evasion to tune of $1.7 million. If convicted of all fourteen counts, he could face up to 40 years in prison. Of course the IRS didn’t hide their delight at making an example of such a high-profile case. “While raking in millions from his songs,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement, “including his 2003 hit ‘X Gon’ Give it to Ya,’ DMX didn’t give any of it to the IRS.” Cue the laugh track.

Nobody was laughing in the parking lot under the Brooklyn Bridge when X lifted his not-quite-one-year-old son Exodus Simmons into his arms, walked to the center of the stage, and kissed him on his cheek. “This is number 15, Exodus,” the proud father said, and then began beat-boxing. “He’s like ‘what the fuck!'”

Throughout a set that was by turns exuberant and emotional, a sharp, clear-eyed DMX remarked “This shit right here? I love this shit!” as if savoring the sheer joy of rocking the mic before a crowd of real hip hop fans. “There’s no place in the world like New York,” he said, his powerful booming voice contrasting with the difficulty of the situation that weighed on everyone’s mind.


“I praise God for every obstacle and hurdle that I get over and do, because it’s through these things that I see what God is willing to do for me,” X said, his voice cracking with emotion.

“We love you X!” the crowd cheered.

“It’s all right baby,” he went on. “It’s all right. In the name of Jesus it’s all right. I am a walking, breathing, living testament to what God can do in somebody’s life. I know he’s with me. From the outside looking in, everybody’s. But all I’m doing is getting rescued by God every time. Every time. I don’t create these situations! But God damn sure rescued me from these situations.” And then he launched into a powerful rendition of his 1998 single “Slippin.”

After X cleared the stage it was time for Rakim Allah to take over, dressed head to toe in first Chicago Bulls gear and later New York Knicks attire, the God MC delivered a miraculous, precision set, replete with lyrical complexity.

Complicated @rakimgodmc #brooklynhiphopfestival

A post shared by Rob Kenner (@robertjkenner) on

And then, just when it seemed that the energy couldn’t go any higher, he welcomed a surprise guest on stage: Havoc of Mobb Deep, making his first public appearance since Prodigy’s death, stepped out to perform three Mobb Deep classics, “Survival of the Fittest,” “Quiet Storm,” and this…

To all the killers and the hundred dolla billers @mobbdeephavoc #brooklynhiphopfestival

A post shared by Rob Kenner (@robertjkenner) on

The impact of watching Hav deliver P’s bars on “Shook Ones Pt. II” was beyond description.

“You all alone in these streets, cousin
Every man for they self in this land we be gunnin’
And keep them shook crews runnin’, like they supposed to…”


Behold, the redemptive power of hip hop.

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DMX’s Debut Album ‘It’s Dark and Hell is Hot’ is 19 years-old


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