Slippin’: My Tribute

$5.99 headphones over my ears. The black foam ear pads are brittle, dusting on the shoulder of a sad, confused, adolescent girl. I am laying on my back on a twin bed of our second floor apartment. Legs up resting on the open space of the wall, occupied by the one double window in the room. The old 1960s burnt orange fuzzy curtains sway as the wind finds its way through the screen, the black window guard, and the thick curvy silver metal window bars. My heart is heavy with the emotions of adolescence, but the smell of Spring, the softness of the breeze, and the sound of my borough is steadying me. I don’t remember what I am specifically upset about. I’m not yet dealing with depression or anxiety. My chest is tight and there are a lot of feelings. I grab my Sony red Walkman, I let my finger brush the silver bubbled W on the front, turn on the anti-skip, and I hit forward to song 10. Sound. Then immediately a tear drops:

Slippin’ Intro – DMX (Earl Simmons) (C) 1998 The Island Def Jam Music Group

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, uhh
See, to live is to suffer but to survive
Well, that’s to find meaning in the suffering
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up

The song’s opening cords always felt like an awakening. It sounds as if the sun is rising. I immediately close my eyes and that tear is both for the darkness, and the dawn of hope. My heart and spirit immediately fills and shifts, much like the quick upward movement of an elevator… hurt is still within but I am calm as a breeze, my breathing slows and the pit in between my heart and throat isn’t so sharp. Then DMX’s voice comes in, “Ayo…” Deep inhale. I exhale the tears. “I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I can’t get up.” I am trying yo. “I gots to get up.” I don’t have a choice. Who, what is there for me? This ain’t it, I have to survive all of this. I need and deserve to step out or above . “I gots to get up.” Get up, move up, move forward. “Get me back on my feet…” This shit is possible. You can feel it, you are meant for more than what’s outside your window. You’ll master whatever all this is. “So I can tear shit up.” Let’s get there. Let’s get it. 

Slippin’ – Earl Simmons / Michael A. Gomez / Grover Washington (C) 1998 The Island Def Jam Music Group

DMX was abandoned by his mother. He was left at a boys home he was too young for. He was forced to grow up, take care and protect himself very early. The actions of adults early in his life communicated he wasn’t of value or a priority. It is not possible to have a childhood and develop, while being forced to be an adult. Imagine trying to understand, let alone balance all of aforementioned while trying to survive and protect yourself. For DMX his becoming a part of the system turned him into commodity early on, and his movement into the industry, although based on his talent, made him a commodity as an adult. He had his ways to cope, but was ultimately tricked into hard drugs. When you deal with some of the things we’ve dealt with, whether it is forms of abuse (physical, verbal, mental), or childhood trauma, or being a product direct or indirectly of the crack epidemic, the list goes on… you are simply looking for peace. You want and crave something simple; love, trust, rest, acceptance, and peace. Roxanne Shante explained this beautifully:

The thing is “nobody can fix what is unreachable inside you.” Nobody, but you.

Roxanne Shante | ‘No One Knows’ IG 4.9.21

DMX left us before he could be his own answer. This song understood me in all its parts. It allowed me to release my hurt. Back then, “to live was to suffer”. There was so much I was physically and mentally wading through, naturally and as a by product. Wadding through a thick black tar like substance. With each step forward you are pulling hard from where you are, and with each step forward it sticks to pull you back and down with it. I had the responsibilities of an adult, with the trials of both a kid, while trying to grow up and take big opportunities to help my and my family’s future. In this society, especially when you grow up in strenuous circumstances like DMX, like us you learn what is expected of you, and you get the feeling of why. You know. You feel it whether you cannot adequately explain it. There were so many ways my worth and value: of my ideas, my voice, my skin were consistently being communicated to me. I chose survival and the hope that one day I’d know/understand enough to find, maybe even choose the right ones. Perhaps to learn how to first find, value and choose myself. This song held me down long enough for me to find my way and my tribe, while doing me the favor of never letting me forget where I come from; physically and mentally the places I heard this song and what I felt when I was there. Like DMX, staying grounded has always been and always will be important to me.

Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I can’t get up
Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up


2 thoughts on “Slippin’: My Tribute

  1. Very very good!! The way you wove the textures in these pieces made everything manifest in the most realest ways to me! I didn’t just read these I lived them! Amazing growth already keep writing my love!!!

    Anthony E. Chandler, CMA 618-954-3667

    >

    Like

    1. Thank you Anthony! You brought a big smile to my face. I really wanted folks to feel what DMX and his music meant. I appreciate your continued support, and always look forward to your impressions and comments.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s