DMX: Dogs for life

Monday April 12 2021
DMX fan

A young fan holds her dog at a makeshift memorial for hip-hop star DMX outside White Plains hospital in White Plains, New York on April 9, 2021. The rapper, who died at 50, was a huge fan of dogs. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

By Nation. Africa

The red-letter day finally arrived for DMX when the iconic raspy-voiced rapper breathed his last on Friday.

His songs were full of social defiance, pain, anger, gangster humour, ghetto life and all that rhymed with the condition of the downtrodden in an affluent society.

The tracks were delivered in his signature gruff, almost parallel flow that aroused life in his fans and a better comprehension of their situation.

It was the kind of music that spurned borders and appealed to the chunk of youth around the globe.

Millennials can still watch and listen to his ranting sermons on YouTube and gel with them since most of the issues are still relevant.

When you sample most of his lyrics, you realise that the word “dog” almost always features. Dogs were more than pets to him.


On several of his songs, he barks and growls. His first successful single was “Get at Me Dog,” and the tattoo on his back, reading “One Love Boomer,” about a deceased dog.

The ‘dog’ is also prominent on his albums, for instance, on the cover of 2003’s Grand Champ. It’s also mentioned in 2006’s Year of the Dog…Again and Dog Eats Rabbit (2017).

In his lyrics, the dog features prominently. In We Right Here, “dog” features five times. One line in the song goes: “Dog for life/Whether I’m on or off the leash, I bite, streets are my life.”

In Ruff Ryders’ Anthem, “dog” has five mentions. One of those goes: “Give a dog a bone, leave a dog alone/Let a dog roam and he’ll find his way home.”

It gets more interesting in Ain’t No Sunshine, where DMX imitates a dog bark in one of the lines then spits: “One dog, one bone.”

In Party Up, “dog” features three times and two of those instances are: “Dog is a dog, blood’s thicker than water/We done been through the mud and we quicker to slaughter.”

Took stray dogs home

He might have used the word sub-consciously, but in a way it shows the rapper’s connection with the domestic animal.

The rapper, who died at 50, was a huge fan of dogs. Many are the times, he said in interviews, that he took home stray dogs.

A BBC obituary of the rapper reads: “DMX learnt to befriend stray dogs, developing a strong bond with his canine friends and later having his former pet, Boomer, tattooed on his back after the dog was struck and killed by a car.”

In a 1998 interview with MTV, he said his love for dogs spanned over years.

“I had dogs as long as I can remember. There was always a dog running loose somewhere. You gotta kick it with him for like a half hour before he trusts you,” he said.

However, the story of DMX and his dogs mirrors the ruin that befell him in his later years.

In 2008, police raided his home and rescued 12 pit bulls from his home and uncovered remains of three others that had died. He was to be charged with animal cruelty but reached a plea bargain with prosecutors.

In 1999, this is what DMX told The LA Times: “If people were like dogs, the world would be a much better place. Dogs only want to eat. They don’t want their food and their territory invaded. Other than that, they leave you alone. That’s life. Eat, sleep, do what you’ve got to do.

“Your dog will die for you. You can beat your dog and your dog will see you in a predicament where you’re about to lose your life and your dog will be right there for you. That’s how dogs get down, unconditional love. Humans are not really capable of unconditional love.”

It may be dog years before we have another gangster rapper who loves dogs that much.