When They’re Gone: Fake Love or Paying Respect?
On April 9th, 2021, the hip-hop community was completely devastated as we lost hip-hop legend, Ruff Ryders one, and only DMX after suffering a heart attack. Though heartbreak occurred, it was immediately followed up with celebration and joy over the life and career of Darkman X and rejoice over all of the gems he left us with it during his time with us. The same day, his signature track “Ruff Ryders Anthem” sky-rocketed to #1 on the iTunes chart and he held all of the top 15 spots on the iTunes Hip-Hop Category with tracks like Party Up, What These Bitches Want, and a plethora of other iconic tracks. While many during this hard to for his family, friends, and fans, the legacy of DMX will be celebrated and honored. However, many see this as an example of DMX was loved and revered by countless, yet others see all of this as another example of “Fake Love”.
Over the past few years, this has become more of a topic revolving around artists who pass. In the wake of their passing, we see a spike in artists’ sales, merchandise, and see an increase in their streams. Notable examples include the late Nipsey Hussle and the underground legend MF DOOM. In the wake of Nipseys passing, in April of 2019, his music increased 2,776% in the U.S., according to initial reports to Nielsen Music. Adding to that, he would win a posthumous Grammy for his collaboration with DJ Khaled in 2020 for the song “Higher”. The late great villain that we love MF DOOM, in the wake of his passing, his music streams were increased by 870%. According to MRC, between December 31st and January 5th, his tracks were streaming 25.4 million times in the wake of his death. However, many call bullshit in times in circumstances like these. YG, a close friend of Nipsey, said on L.A.’s Big Boy’s Neighborhood :
“I wanna say this. I wanna say, I hate the fact…I hate how all these people comin’ outta nowhere sayin’ all this Nipsey sh*t when he passed,” YG said. “I just wish the homie would have knew that these people f*cked wit’ him when he was alive. You know what I’m sayin’?”. “That fake sh — That sh*t fake. Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with that. They liable to get slapped. You feel me when some real ones come across ’em. We’ll slap n*ggas, bro. Stop playin’. Yeah, man. TMC. Nip, I love you. I’m glad I got all the moments and the memories,” he added. “I’m glad about the real conversations we had. I used to tell bro he was different. I used to tell him this, so I’m glad that I got to tell him.”
When DOOM passed, Ugly God on his IG Story stated: “ya’ll n***as did not listen to doom.”. However, Lil Yachty replied to his statement by saying: “You can still show respect”, with Ugly God then replying to the criticism of “gate-keeping”: “Ya’ll acting like ya’ll can’t tell the difference between showing respect and being fake sad,”.
Fake love in DMXs case is so far from the case: two platinum albums in the same year, an AMA winner, starred in a few film, highly influential hip-hop artist to many people today such as Denzel Curry as he posted in honor of X “You’ve always been an inspiration to me growing up and most aggressive style of rapping came from you..”. Many of the big hits are still played today whether it may be Ruff Ryders Anthem, Party Up, X Gon Give it 2 Ya, and being sampled by Drake for his song “U Wit Me”, which interpolated the hook DMXs “How’s It Going Down”. X isn’t being given fake love, hell right now, he’s getting the love he’s always gotten from the community. When seeing his music back on the top of the charts, it’s not a case of “they only love you when you’re gone”, it’s a case of remembering a loved one (plus, do you want him to be in the top 10 every day, we don’t listen to the same artist every day for that long).
While, of course, there are people who may grossly take advantage of their passing for likes on social media or pretend they were fans since the beginning. Hell, even DOOM passed, his vinyl sold out and people reselling them for $60 and over, even though they were originally going for $24–32., however, that’s a select few. How I perceive in the light of someone’s passing, the artist’s legacy will continue to expand forever. Seeing their streams increase means many remember the great music they had music, while others are discovering them for the first time. Yes, it would’ve been more comforting if they had discovered their music while they were alive so it’s unfortunate it has to be under this circumstance, but at least that the individual was introduced to them somehow and someway for the better. Isn’t that what most artists want for their music? To continue to spread when they are no longer with us. To be remembered for their acts that they’re most proud of and happy that they’ve accomplished. On his 2021 episode of the Drink Champs Podcast, DMX expressed: “If I were to drop dead right now, my last thought would be I lived a good life”.
However, it’s easy to understand why some get defensive and offended as you cherish an artist all the time and then their day of transitioning to the afterlife, all of the sudden people you’d least expected are fans, playing their music and tweeting R.I.P. Your reaction leans towards doubt and criticism towards them. We treat artists we love as family members, friends, and often therapists; people who seem to guide us and seek us through our time of fun or when we’re stuck down in the gutter of despair. Building a connection towards them, so for people to come around after the fact feels a bit ingenue. Yet, it’s not wrong to pay respect to a late artist whether you were a day one fan since their debut mixtape or not. What it boils down to is we get to truly see how much of an impact they were making and have had made on others. Whether it’d be a lost future talent in the vein of Juice Wrld or Pop Smoke, or an established heavyweight like DMX, DOOM, or Nipsey.