If there’s one thing we know after witnessing DMX at the Observatory last Saturday, it’s that when X gon’ give it to ya, he holds nothing back. Considering the kind of 2016 he's having, we were glad he was able to give us anything at all.
Aside from collapsing after a suspected asthma attack in February, on Friday the rapper got tangled up in yet another unsavory headline right in our own backyard. TMZ reported that X met a woman at a bar in Hollywood that night and brought her and a group of people back to his hotel room in OC. Apparently it wasn't long before X's team noticed the woman was gone and so was his $30k watch. They called Costa Mesa Police Department, who says they found the girl with the watch and arrested her for theft. However, once in cuffs, the woman alleged that X had sexually assaulted her. Cops are still investigating the woman’s claim. This might’ve been just another standard weeknight in DMX’s world, but for it to happen here made us all the more concerned that the rapper born Earl Simmons might end up spending last night in county lock up instead of on stage.
The night’s main opener, Masta Ace of legendary Brooklyn trio eMC and Juice Crew, seemed to draw plenty of love out of a big group of OC hip-hop heads. Most of them must fondly remember the days when “The I.N.C. Ride” combined the soul of the Isley Brothers with laid back flows that almost sounded too West Coast to come from a Brooklyn native. Joined at one point by his eMC mate Stricklin, Ace attempted to educate those who may have missed his contributions to the Golden Age of dope lyricism.
Fortunately by the time Ace was done with his set, X made it to the gig around 11:30 p.m. Opening with 2001’s Great Depression era track “We Right Here,” he skulked on stage wearing a gray hoodie and shades. The Ruff Ryder’s gritty, Yonkers flow was in top form, from the gruff bars to the menacing growls in between tracks. It was as if no time had passed since the days when his '98 debut It's Dark and Hell is Hot dominated the airwaves.
Surrounded on all sides by fans reaching past the guard rail just to touch his Timberlands, X gave most millennials their minimum required dose of nostalgia with “Ruff Ryders Anthem.” We have to admit that as long as we heard the phrase “Stop. Drop. Shut ‘em Down. Open Up Shop!” shouted from of X’s mouth, we could consider this show a success. But the rapper still had so much more to give.
His test of the audience proved we could hang on his every word through a volley of one-verse versions of “Get At Me Dog,” “Stop Being Greedy,” a cover of “Money, Power, Respect” by the Lox (remember them?!) and a remix of Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It.”
When it came time to “fuck with the ladies” X gladly stripped off his white t-shirt, bearing his six pack to set off the tough guy slowjam “How’s it Goin Down.” However, when a dude reached out to give him daps during the song, X preferred not to give it to him.
“That song is particularly for the ladies, so it’s kinda difficult shake a guy’s hand, you understand right?” He said.” “It’s not that I don’t fuck witchu, just not on that song.”
He followed up with “It’s All Good” and a comment about being such a player, he’s able to “fuck gay bitches.” Ya know, just in case we didn’t forget that he’s still a major stud at age 45. On top of that he busted out a quick set of pushups to get his blood going before diving into “Where the Hood At.”
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Finally after breezing through choruses from Grand Champ tracks “Robb All Night,” “Fuck Y’all” and “The Rain” it was time for that album’s crowning achievement, “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.” Suddenly the center of the crowd opened up into a pit as guys and a few brave girls knocked into each other while X bounced up and down spitting the lyrics with as much fire as he had in ‘98.
Considering how well he did with all his classic material, it seemed like the audience might’ve even been receptive to a new song or two to mix things up on his set list (which has stayed virtually the same for years.)
“When I have nothing else to say, I will shut the fuck up….grrrrr!” X growled. Let’s hope that means we’ll finally see some new material on the horizon. It would definitely be a welcomed distraction to help the rapper dodge whatever his next TMZ-worthy incident may be heading his way.
His final salvo of tunes exploded with the mega radio hit “Party Up,” followed by the lesser known cut “A’ Yo, Kato,” though not before X graciously offered crowd members a few sips of his Hennessy bottle which came back to him with just enough to pour out the rest for all the dead homies. To wrap up the show, X reminded the crowd that despite the fact that most of his songs are about succumbing to demons and vice, the one true strength the rapper has is his faith. After spitting the Jesus-inspired bars of “Lord Give Me a Sign,” he gave us all one last fiery sermon in the form of the spoken word skit “Prayer” before we all drove home in the rain.