On Tuesday, fans of the late rapper DMX were given a special gift: more insight into his oft-mentioned, unreleased dual album, Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later.
Though not nearly as tangible as holding the actual album itself, the details uncovered in the extensive Rolling Stone report is enough to make you feel and understand exactly what the Ruff Ryder rapper’s intentions and state of mind were at the time of the album’s inception and creation. Tellingly, it was framed within the context of his tumultuous time in “God’s country,” aka Arizona—which was largely due to his internal struggles with addiction as well as harassment and jail time at the hands of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
DMX’s producer and manager Pat Gallo recounted his time working with the rapper on the album, the “constant police surveillance” they were subjected to and witnessing the rapper’s addiction firsthand. Recalling a time when the It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot rapper asked to be filmed while he got high so he could see how he looked, Gallo said: “I wasn’t comfortable doing that. I think he saw how I looked at him in that state. It wasn’t him anymore. It was this scared person. Sometimes I felt like I enabled him. He knew I would always be there.”
More on the album from Rolling Stone:
Despite the upheaval in his life, DMX was determined to execute his vision for Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later. On the wall of one room at Saltmine, he wrote out the double album’s title in black marker. Industrial-metal pioneer Al Jourgensen was mixing a Ministry album in the studio next door, and studio owner Don Salter remembers the two musicians striking up a conversation about art and life in the hallway. DMX’s sessions would usually begin after midnight and end when the sun rose. “Then, very often, he would take us all to Denny’s,” Salter says.
The first song that Gallo, who produces under the name Divine Bars, made with DMX in Arizona was “Already,” a chest-thumping track that sounds like it could have appeared on a Madden NFL soundtrack. In the verses, DMX rails against the fakeness of popular rap when compared with his own authenticity. “There was an anger about him at that time,” Gallo says.
It later added: “DMX and Gallo recorded the bulk of the songs intended for the gospel album in a single night in 2008. They were up against a deadline to finish the project, and Gallo remembers that it was difficult to get DMX to the studio that evening. He arrived in the early hours of morning and went up a spiral staircase to a loft, then went into an upstairs bathroom to smoke crack. When he came out, he told Gallo to put on a beat, rapidly wrote a song, recorded it top-to-bottom in one take, and then climbed the stairs back up to the loft to repeat the whole process. By the time the sun came up, DMX had written and recorded seven gospel songs.”
Though the album is finished, it has yet to be released in the way the “Get It on the Floor” rapper intended. According to Gallo, DMX was holding off from releasing the music “until he got his life together.” Currently, the rights to Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later belong to Canadian businessman Howard Mann, who claims to have secured the songs through an auction in 2015. Per the entertainer’s official estate, however, Mann “has no authority” over the rights that they’re aware of and “hasn’t shown [the estate] anything to reflect that he owns any music that DMX recorded. He has absolutely nothing to do with the estate and, to the extent that he has DMX’s music, the estate has not authorized the use of DMX’s name and likeness.”
To read the full report, visit rollingstone.com.