That’s DMX and his entire crew. 4 rows deep, it looks like.
Despite it’s appearance, this isn’t the beginning of a Ruff Ryders video. No popping wheelies, no barking, no screaming, none of that.
This large group of men are standing there, behind DMX, as he makes this 33 second speech:
Dearest sweet Aaliyah,
I have trouble accepting the fact that you’re gone, so i won’t.
It’ll be like… we went for a while without seeing each other.
But i can understand… why god would have wanted you close to him,
because you truly were an angel on earth.
And in my own special way, I love you.
I miss you.
Those 20+ men behind DMX are there, I’d like to believe, to support him as he struggles through one of the most personal and heartfelt public statements he will ever make. He says it, and the way he pauses to collect his thoughts lets you know that it wasn’t something prepared by his publicist or someone in his circle. This was just Earl, saying goodbye to his girl Aaliyah that he lost 10 years ago, today.
Watching this as a 14 year old boy, in the height of my quest to figure out what masculinity was all about and how to best express myself, my mind was blown. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.
These words were coming out of the mouth of DMX. Dark Man X. One of my Black angst heroes. Every guard that he had ever put up (and ultimately encouraged me to put up) as a semi-tough Black man in America, came crumbling down.
Rarely at that point in my life had I seen a “tough Black man” be that emotional in my entire life. Not crying, but wanting to cry, probably needing to cry, but not crying. I remember watching it, feeling a rush of goosebumps on goosebumps ravage my arms and legs, and almost becoming immobilized as he and a bevy of others showed their true feelings towards the beautiful, wonderful woman that was Aaliyah.
Her passing crushed me, because I was completely in love with her. She was (and still is) this prototype of perfection that men want to find, women want to find, other women want to be and if men can’t get her and women can’t find her or be her, they genuinely don’t have an issue settling as her best friend.
It’s hard to watch the video, but at the same time I want to watch it over and over again. I want to constantly remind myself about how amazing Aaliyah was and how much she was loved. It’s an unsettling feeling, because she left too soon, but the beauty in the video is almost unparalleled. A perfect tribute.