music

What Made DMX the Modern Day Griot of Hip Hop Music

Image Credit: GQ/YouTube

There’s not too many celebrities who could command my attention long enough to want to listen through an entire interview. And then, there was X. While on vacation a few years ago in Mexico, I remember watching and listening intently to every word during DMX’s interview with the Breakfast Club. Amazed I was, as he joined hands with the crew, leading them in prayer. When X spoke, people listened.

DMX was like a modern day Griot for Hip Hop. Griot’s were African storytellers who provided an oral history of their tribe, and entertained through various art forms like poems, songs, and dance. Throughout DMX’s music, he shared his life’s story, the good, the bad, the ugly, which often read like a poem, over a popular beat.1 Sometimes, his music was a cautionary tale of the dangers that can happen when the wrong influences are involved. Other times, it was a rallying cry that could amp you up at a sporting event, gym, or long shift at work. Many times, it was a conversation between him and God.

A great storyteller has the ability to travel through time and give an account so well that you felt like you were there. They captivate you with their delivery; Alright, so boom. And their transitions are like cliffhangers, leaving you on the edge of your seat. You’re not going to believe what happened next! DMX was not only Hip Hop’s, but one of the world’s great storytellers. When a griot dies, it’s been said that it’s like ‘a library has been burned to the ground.’2 While it is a tremendous loss, his work will live on for generations to come.

TV One is set to air the late rapper’s final interview in a two-part special. Uncensored: DMX airs Sunday May 16 at 8pm. Will you be tuning in? Watch the trailer.

1 Griot Definition: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/griot

2 When a Griot Dies reference: https://www.thersa.org/blog/2021/01/words-shape-future#:~:text=In%20West%20African%20cultures%2C%20the,’

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