I can’t even remember what year it was, maybe 2004 or 2005, but I ended up sitting next to DMX at a small lunch at a fancy hotel in Philly.

I was in town filming a documentary, and I have no idea why DMX was there, but he showed up at this table I was sitting at and joined us.
I’d never met DMX before, but for whatever reason he decided to tell me his whole life story during this lunch. From his childhood in Yonkers to the group home he was sent to as a teenager to the dogs he’d hang out with at night to becoming a rap megastar, he told me everything.
He told me how all his albums had debuted at number one on billboard - first rapper to ever do that. He was proud of his career.

Side note (years later): DMX would become the only other act, aside form Beyonce, to debut at No. 1 with their first five studio albums.
After 2-3 hours of storytelling by DMX, he says to me...”you want to have a smoke?”

I don’t smoke, but I was like, “of course.” 🤷

We get up from the table and he turns to me and says, “grab your video camera.”

I get the camera and me and DMX walk out of the hotel.
X pulls out a cigarette and lights it up and hands me the pack. Before I could even pretend to pull out a smoke, he starts rapping.

“This is life...this is what I know...so to me this is life...”

And I’m like oh snap, this is “one more road to cross.”

I pick up the camera...
I start rolling...not a joint, but the tape in my camera. He’s doing the whole song straight at me. And as he goes on he gets more + more into it.

He starts to entertain. I think I’m filming a music video at this point.

What I don’t realize is he’s about to do the whole album.
For the next 60 minutes, DMX literally performs EVERY song from ...And Then There Was X.

Cigarette hanging out of his mouth, every lyric, every single lyric.

When we get to “Party Up” I’m thinking I’m Hype Williams. I am filming all of it and loving it. And he’s loving it.
DMX gets to the end of the album and my man is exhausted. He just rapped the whole damn album from track 1 to 18 while smoking a pack of cigs. It was fucking incredible.

People walking out the fancy hotel were looking at us very confused, but he didn’t care, he didn’t stop.
When it was all said and done, DMX turns to me and says, “you wanna hear ‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Not’?”

We both just start laughing, cause he knew I wanted to hear it and he wanted to rap it, but we were both beat. Mercy rule.

We gave me a pound, got in his truck, and drove off.
I never saw X again. It was just one of those magical, unexplainable moments that happened between the both of us.

I’m pretty sure the tapes are somewhere in my mother’s garage in storage. I think I need to go dig those out one of these days...

Love to DMX.

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More from @MichaelSkolnik

19 Jul 20
On March 8, 2015, one day after the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” John Lewis asked me to take his picture at the foot of The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

A short story. Image
In 2015, for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” I was invited by The White House to join the gathering in Selma to commemorate this historic event.

I was humbled to be invited and there was no way I was going to miss being there in person. I flew to Alabama.
I am a student of the Civil Rights Movement and over the years I’ve had the honor to learn from many of its leaders, including John Lewis.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think my hero would become a teacher + a mentor...an elder who passed down his wisdom to so many of us.
Read 10 tweets
9 Jun 20
While so many of you are opening your hearts + donating to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I'd love to suggest also supporting organizations led by black formerly incarcerated people + children of the incarcerated.

Here's a short list of some incredible orgs to give to:
Forward Justice (@forward_justice) is a nonpartisan law, policy, and strategy center dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the U.S. South.

Change the South. Change the nation.

Donate: forwardjustice.org/donate/
A New Way of Life Reentry Project (@ANewWayofLife1) led by @SusanBurtonLA provides housing and support for formerly incarcerated women for successful community reentry, family reunification, and individual healing.

Donate: connect.clickandpledge.com/w/Form/5bfec20…
Read 11 tweets
24 Mar 20
A thread about my past two days.

I spent the past 48 hours reading through 2800+ applications from artists + activists from around the world whose work has been impacted by COVID-19. I've cried numerous times reading the desperation that so many in our community have right now.
Not knowing how they will pay rent. Pay a light bill. Pay for food for their kids’ dinner tomorrow night. Jobs have come to a complete halt. Productions canceled. Commissions canceled. Teaching gigs postponed. Tours canceled. Speaking engagements canceled. Side hustles gone.
Films + TV shows halted. What I've read over past 48 hrs breaks my heart, but motivates me to do more. I spent all day writing checks from @WeAreSoze Foundation, sending money through Venmo + PayPal. $35,000 went out the door today to artists + activists who refuse to give up.
Read 8 tweets
5 Jan 20
2 trillion dollars to fund the war machine and the minimum wage is still $7.25
2 trillion dollars to fund the war machine and there are 552,000+ homeless people in America.
2 trillion dollars to fund the war machine and Flint still has dirty water.
Read 8 tweets
5 Dec 19
This Biden ad will do 10m+ views on twitter tonight.

Pro tip: Campaigns should stop buying TV time and start spending heavily on powerful digital ads, hard hitting, no bullshit rapid response (counter-punch) and build a cultural narrative against Trump.

While data, polling + policy are critical, we’re in a culture war. And Trump fights it everyday. He knows this game. This how he has built his whole career + his campaign. He buys millions worth of digital ads, using data, but more importantly, culture. Duck Dynasty. NRA. Kanye.
We MUST INVEST in our own culture strategy that is unapologetic about our vision for our country.

We need the artists, story-tellers, musicians, the writers, the creators, the meme makers, the designers, the filmmakers, the DJs, the 280 character wizards, the tik tok dancers...
Read 4 tweets
10 Aug 19
This week, I learned of the passing of a young man I mentored when he was a kid.

Edgar Barboza, from East LA, was part of a theater program I co-founded while I was a student at UCLA back in 1999.

He was twelve when I first met him and immediately I knew I would like this kid.
In 2000, our program did the first ever theater exchange between the US and Cuba, bringing 12 American kids to Cuba for a month to live and collaborate with 12 Cuban kids. Edgar was one of them.

Nervous. A mama's boy, he didn't know if he could handle a month away from home.
I don't know if I remember if he had ever been out of the country, but living in Cuba for a month was a challenge for all of our kids.

Food was not in abundance. It was before cell phones, so we had to use a satellite phone. Kids only had one phone home a week, for 5 minutes.
Read 10 tweets

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