Twenty-two years ago on May 12, 1998, DMX released his debut album—-and I was featured on that classic monumental album.
For years in my Harlem neighborhood, I was known as ‘the girl on DMX’s album’. Who knew that a one-liner on ATF would bring so much attention? I met Earl Simmons back in 1996 in the Mart 125 with the late A&R Icepick Jay who worked in the Mart as well selling jewelry at Black Men’s Jewelry. The Mart was the place to be for music, rhinestone hats, airbrushed tees and custom furs—all sold by black vendors. This African-American mall adjacent to the Apollo Theater became a recluse for celebrities, athletes, and the neighborhoods that adored these items.
I was a manicurist and D walked up to my booth after seeing Jay asking if I would do his nails although I was closing. I agreed but he would have to sit and wait for me to finish eating first. He patiently waited while I ate and then I gave him the first of many manicures and we talked about everything under the sun. He told him he was an MC and of course being the young hip hop head I was I asked him to rhyme for me. He spit the craziest rhyme I ever heard right there in the empty mall and that was the beginning of our friendship. I would soon have him rapping in the back of the Mart battling my homegirl Marquee or rhyming during my break while we smoked blunts. (It was the 90’s)
Fast forward to 1998 and he was putting the finishing touches on his debut album on Def Jam Records after an unfortunate incident that left his mouth wired shut. He came to my job with bloody Timbs on to hang out and asked me to go to the studio to record some stuff for his album. I agreed and we ended up at the infamous Right Track Studios. Producer Dame Grease was on the helm and everyone was listening to his new single ‘Get At Me Dog’. The entire studio was on cloud 9 because there was no doubt we were witnessing the next great MC in the works. He beckoned for me to come into the booth and punch a line while he rapped. I honestly almost missed my line because he was so live, exaggerated and aggressive with the story we knew this album would be a classic.
“1,2,3,4,5 MORE CLIPS!”
The song ‘ATF’ was a short album cut but till this day people are still surprised that my 18 year-old self appeared on one of the greatest album of all times.
Shout out to my Harlem comrade Dame Grease who produced ATF and went on to become not only a legendary producer but a bonafide music composer for blockbuster movies as well. That summer was full of memories, hit after hit and D always remained the same. As he celebrated going platinum he called me to the now defunct Tower Records to his meet and greet. From walking the streets of Harlem to a line wrapped around a corner he had made it where he knew he belonged. Big Pun came upstairs to congratulate him before the signing. D knew I loved Pun and my young self told me, “Pun you going platinum!” He replied waving his hand, “Passed that.” This was a great time to be a live. Authentic MC’s supporting one another during their rise to fame.
X took his spot he didn’t ask for a thing. He taught me about hard work and being yourself—the people recognize real from fake.
Happy Birthday to It’s Dark And Hell is Hot! 22 years and the album still knocks. Check out my one-liner below…. ‘What you want me to do?!—–Beep Carlos!”
DMX we salute you and this classic piece of art, God Bless.