You want to know the secret? You want to know how to take whatever rotted-off-the-tree lemons life shoves under your shoes and turn them not only into lemonade but goddam limoncello? You want to know the key to everything? It’s three letters.
Let me finish. There is no verb in any language that cannot be made better by DMX’s undeniable power anthem, “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.” I mean that. Yesterday my therapist said I needed a song. As a tool against my depression, I needed an anthem that I’ll use for the rest of my life to change a moment from depression to control. I picked one. It’s this right here. Nowhere else have I heard the pain of existence and the gritted-teeth desire to fight against despair so eloquently summed up in a single couplet:
“I’ve been doing this for nineteen years.
Neighbors* wanna fight me? Fight these tears.”
(*I say neighbors but I trust my readers to know that DMX did not say neighbors. I don’t want a power anthem that includes using a word that isn’t mine. That word in the song may be a moment of strength for DMX, but in the mouth of your faithful and chubby white blogger, the meaning of that word will never be anything but a middle finger to a culture that I respect and admire more than my own.)
“This” for DMX is the rap game set against him, is the hood and its innumerable traps and oppressors. Embarrassingly enough for me, “this” is depression. DMX didn’t know it, but he made a song that punches my chemical imbalance, my spontaneous crying jags, and my days where I beg not to wake up in their smug blue faces. So, thanks, DMX.
This gift comes to us from the soundtrack to the DMX, Jet Li, and Mark Dacascos action romp “Cradle 2 The Grave.” If you’re unfamiliar, you might know the film by its unofficial other title, “BEST FUCKING MOVIE OF ALL TIME.” That’s not hyperbole. Where else are you going to see the powerhouse cast of DMX (see above!), Jet Li (one of the baddest martial artists of the modern era!), Mark Dacascos (the Iron Fucking Chef!), Tom Arnold (in one of his two good performances!), Gabrielle Union (The whip smart and immensely charming star of Deliver Us from Eva!)? Nowhere, that’s where! Pop this movie in and welcome yourself to the best hour and 41 minutes of your life!
The plot is thin as made-to-shatter stunt glass, honestly. DMX (Tony Faith in the movie, but barely. There’s no part of this movie where he stops being DMX, nor should there be) and his crew of professional thieves are hired to steal some diamonds and discover those diamonds are part of an international terrorist plot and the terrorists in question kidnap DMX’s daughter. What follows are some fistfights, some martial arts, some ATV chases, a lobster claw murder, a gangster named jump chambers, little person Martin Klebba being used as a weapon, and one of the most electrifying and amped-up soundtrack’s in the history of sound.
Drag-On’s “Fireman,” DMX, Eminem, and Obie Trice’s “Go to Sleep, M.O.P and Capone-N-Noriega’s “Stompdashitoutu,” are just a handful of the hand grenades thrown around on this soundtrack. There is no break, no soft song, no tenderness, DMX and his collaborators have gifted unto the world a cinematic action spectacle, and a barrage of songs so inspiring and violently exciting they put Rocky to shame.
This movie is funny, is action-packed, is sweet, is cool, is eye-rollingly corny, and such a beautiful and brutal time capsule of pop culture in 2003.
It’s so worth your time.
The movie, as of right now, is on Netflix.
The album, as of right now, is on Spotify.
You don’t have an excuse, really. If you need a reason to watch it, listen to it, or experience it and this mad, heartfelt essay was not enough, believe in your heart of hearts that X is Gon’ Give It To Ya.
Watch the trailer here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bzV6WtYbffs
Listen to the soundtrack here: https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiyGlJHbM06JosDl7snmMfEOKGYbes5NV