U With Me: How Drake Earned the Respect of DMX With One Phone Call
“I don’t like anything about Drake. I don’t like his voice, I don’t like what he talks about, I don’t like his face, I don’t like the way he walks, I don’t like his haircut” - DMX (The Breakfast Club 2012)
DMX’s first interview on The Breakfast Club was raw, unfiltered and brutally honest. All the qualities that made his music riveting and powerful. One of the most memorable moments is hearing him voice his opinion on Drake - an opinion that could’ve easily been a remix to Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like.” Charlamagne laughs hysterically in the background, amused, happy to see someone else openly express their disdain for Drizzy Drake. There’s plenty of highlights throughout the interview but when this one got around, you walked away thinking DMX hated Drake. This interview was the first thing that came to mind while listening to Views and hearing DMX's voice on “U With Me.”
Drake both samples DMX's voice from “What These Bitches Want” and has an interpolation of the hook from “How’s It Going Down” on the Views cut. His first line is a confession that he’s on some “DMX shit” group dming his exes. I know it’s meant to be a clever use of “DM” and “Exes,” but I can’t imagine Dark Man X being scandalous on social media - until recently he didn’t even know what Google was - and if he was then that would be on some “Drake shit” if we’re being honest. Still it was one of the most surprising moments on Views, to hear DMX on a Drake album, even in this way seemed to be nothing short of a miracle. Unless the sample wasn’t cleared and a lawsuit would be coming in the future, Drake was given the okay to use both songs. On the bright side that meant a nice payday for a living legend and a new round of exposure to X for a younger crowd.
We first learned that it was Noreaga who middle manned the sample clearance but details were scarce. DMX recently returned to The Breakfast Club and detailed a phone call that he considered, “a humbling experience.” He shared how Drake confessed that X was one of the rappers who raised him and 40. Out of all the rappers to have influenced Drake’s music, DMX isn’t one that comes to mind but it’s not crazy to think that Drake and 40 spent their early and late adolescence listening to It’s Dark and Hell is Hot or Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood. X was the biggest rapper in the world at one time, he raised a generation of kids the way Drake is doing now. Even though money could’ve motivated him to allow Drake to sample the records, you can tell that phone call meant a lot to him. Not just from a rapper to a rapper perspective but man to man. There are days I’m pretty sure Drake is a manufactured brand here to take all our money but he’s also a hip-hop kid who pays homage to those that deserve it.
I also like the fact that in the four years since his first interview, Charlamagne's opinion on Drake has also changed. He said he would send bottles and bottles were sent. Probably more ploy than pride but keeping his word and responding to Meek gave Charlamagne a man to respect. The same with the phone call - an email with a contract could’ve been sent, management could’ve contacted management, 40 could’ve went and met him, but Drake called a man who on the radio went down a list of things he didn’t like about him, who was very vehement in his thoughts toward Drake’s posthumous Aaliyah album. That’s not a man you want to talk to, you want to praise, you want to use on your album, but he looked passed it all.
It’s hard to watch X at times, you can see the damage of addiction. Years and years of addiction. Hopefully he can stay clean, stay out of prison and live out the rest of his life happily. Views has done well, very well in sales and streams, hopefully that means he’s getting a nice big check. I’d shed some real tears if his publishing situation has been sold away. Here’s hoping that’s not the case, and here’s to our legends living long and being recognized, to the future legends paying their respects to those that came before them, to Drake and DMX finding love not war, and to hip-hop for bringing people together and not apart.
By Yoh, aka DJ Yohkademiks, aka @Yoh31