In this exclusive interview, FOX 5 NY reporter and Street Soldiers host Lisa Evers spoke to two of DMX's closest friends: Darrin "Dee" Dean of the Ruff Ryders and Craig Brodhead, DMX's manager. They spoke about what DMX sought to communicate through his music and what he meant to them and the people he knew in the neighborhoods in Westchester where he lived.
LISA EVERS: First of all. Tell me how you want people to remember him and honor him at this point.
DARRIN DEAN: Well, I just want people to always remember his music, how talented he was and how great it was just a blessing to have him in it. It was a gift and he got his message across to his music. So he always felt like he does God's work. So, you know, just remembered for speaking for God. That was the main thing for him. He just wanted to be the voice of God. That was one of his main thing — the voice of God. If you ever listened to his music, you will always, he's never talked about cars, money, girls. He always just talked about difficult situations that you can get yourself out of. And he helped a lot of other people get through hard times as well because that's the type of music wanted to make to be able to reach people that's going through the same thing he was going through so that the music he made.
EVERS: Craig, my condolences to you.
CRAIG BRODHEAD: Thank you, Lisa. And we thank you. First of all, because he loved you. He loved you because he knows you represent the culture and the way you handled this whole ordeal was with respect and class. And I know he's looking down right now and he appreciates that.
EVERS: Why do you think people connected with him? I've never seen anything like it, to tell you the truth.
BRODHEAD: 'Cause they're always real. He's authentic, you know? He's the people's champ. You know, he's like the Ali of hip hop of rap because the world loved him. You see, it's not millions. There are billions of people praying for him. Other people can make a hot rap. We always talk about it. They make a hot rap, hot line. But with him, you believe him, no matter what he says, you believe him. 'Cause it comes from his spirit, his guts, you know? And so that resonated with the people. You know, I can take his rhyme right now and I can spit it for you. Give me the same beat. It's not going to have the same power because he lived it -- his pain, his struggle, his passion. And so he connected with the people and that's the one thing, you know, it was real love. So it's not even, it's a friendship, little brother thing, Dee NY had him 10 years before you knew who DMX was. And so people don't get that. This is not a business for us.
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EVERS: It's a way of life. And one of the things about him too — every time I was with him, a lot of times it was on the streets and there were people around. He would just be talking with the people. It wasn't. "No, I can't talk right now."
DEAN: That was the good part with X is that he came up with us and we really came from the streets. So he had no fear of the people that, where he came from, he would not want you to stop the people from coming to talk to him. He wanted to talk to him. He didn't need no security. He would do security if he had to do a show or something, he had to get through the crowd. But if he had to just walk through these projects, he'll just walk through and talk to the people and give them some love and give them a little pointers on what they could do with their life. You just want to always be on hands with the people. He never was fake. He was always just genuine with the people
EVERS: The other thing about him that I love so much was his will to live and his positivity. It was like he went through so much, he was open. All the legal stuff, the substance abuse challenges, all these things, no matter what happened, he came out and was like, "I'm going to try to do it again. I'm going to try to be better this time around." Like, he just kept trying and fighting and battling with every breath.
DEAN: Right. He just never gave up. And he just had the right people around. When you got the right people around you, he's going to be forced to do the right thing. So we pushed them that way. If he's pulling that way, we pushed him this way. If he go that way, Craig would tell you that it's just another thing with X, we just had to stay on our toes with him at all times. And he was getting better and better and better. You seen that? He put on, his weight was better. He was looking good. He was looking great. You see him right now laying in there, he looked like he was just born. Just sat on the couch.
EVERS: I got a call from an artist, a friend from Miami last night. And he was saying how they had been seeing [DMX] in Miami. He was doing really well. He was making all kinds of connections with people and really getting back into the whole full swing of the music thing and just really enjoying his life for a moment and really enjoying who he is and what he's given to all of us. But tell us what was on deck for 2021 because the other part of this that's so sad is that this was like a whole new chapter that was about to start for him this year.
BRODHEAD: It really was. The music was just the commercial because what he spoke about less was the music. But the album is classic. Dee and I, back when COVID was announced, we jumped in an RV with X and we drove to Nashville, Tennessee. We drove down there in an RV 'cause he was like, "We can't get stuck in New York. Let's go start the album." So we spent time in Nashville, was it four months?
DEAN: Yeah, we was over there for a couple of months. And it's just sad that he ain't going to be able to music. We did all the albums. But this album right here is special. Like you probably never heard no music like you heard on this one that we did just now. This is probably one of his great albums. One of the best. It's a classic, for sure.
EVERS: And how do you want people to remember him and honor his memory right now?
BRODHEAD: You know, you guys are talking about his fighting spirit. And he had "BFW" tatted on his neck — "Built For War." You know, fight today. And he always said, "Dog, Baby, fight till the end." And that's what he did. But he was becoming a better man, a better father. He was doing a lot of introspection. The album was one thing. He was excited about it. He couldn't wait to promote it and get out there with the music. But his main thing was his children, you know? And we were in development process for a fatherhood show, actually, and had gone into a contract with a production company. And we were getting ready to shop it where he was bringing his children together. Not only repairing his relationships with them but introducing a lot of them for the first time to one another.
And that was his main focus. And so what we did to help raise his spirits while he was in the hospital is we contacted the mothers. We contacted the children and we got them all up here, you know? And so we started the process but our hope was that he would wake up and we'd let them see like, "Yeah, look it, you know, we got your kids, we got the ball rolling." So it was a beautiful thing, it was a blessing. The good thing that has come out of this is the blessing that, I mean, you would thought [his kids had] known each other forever. They clicked immediately right away. So it's a beautiful thing. And so when you look at them, you see him. We were talking about it, right. You look in their eyes... You see him right in the eyes.
EVERS: Let me just ask you about the Rough Ryders. Give us an idea about the Rough Ryders in the very beginning because it was such a moving tribute on Sunday when everybody rolled in here.
DEAN: What was so amazing about the music in the Rough Ryders when it came to X is that he was like our first artist. And like I told him, we had the label already and we were dealing with different artists, but he was one of the artists that really like helped me even consider doing music because I just knew he had talent. And I was like, this is probably somebody that we can help change the game and everything. So we believed in him, he was just a great artist.
You just know he just loved what he was doing. You ever seen him rhyme? He rhyme from the heart. It's passion, like you just can't even help it. With music, no music, anytime he speaks, it's felt because he's speaking what he feeling, he speaking what he lived. Not trying to put a bunch of words that match, he's telling you exactly what he went through all the way, all the way.
EVERS: How are you going to find the strength to deal with this?
DEAN: I mean, we mentally strong around here. So we go through a lot of different things. This is a difficult one, you know. The only thing that we do have is the music that keeps us living forever with him. So we got his new album coming out soon. So as soon as we finished that, they're going to love him even more.