DMX’s “Damien” Lyrics Meaning

There are two main characters in this song, “Damien” and DMX himself. The name of the former was inspired by the Omen movie series where the fictional Damien is basically the personification of the devil on earth. But within the lyrics of this track, he is more of a spiritual being existing within the narrator, though still representing the same fundamental concept.

The story commences with DMX being down-and-out and wishing for a “guardian angel” to lead him down the road to prosperity. Then Damien materializes, offering to make him “the hottest ni**a ever living”. Or put differently, he promises X fame and fortune of the likes which he can only fantasize about. 

So DMX accepts his friendship. And whereas initially Damien does not come off as being sinister, in the back of his mind X obviously knows what time it is. For he considers his fellowship with Damien as being akin to being cool with “Chucky”, the killer doll baby from the Child’s Play franchise.

And the two of them do in fact strike up a friendship, with Damien basically encouraging DMX to do destructive things. He also reasserts his promise to make him rich. But this time around, Damien specifies that if X accepts the offer that they “gotta stay friends, blood out, blood in”. That latter expression is actually a gang-related term, pointing to the idea that the only way their relationship will end is if one of them dies. Or considering that Damien is more or less a spirit, what he is really asserting is that he and X will be associated for life.

Narrator accepts the Deal with the Devil

DMX promptly proceeds to accept the deal, considering that he has nothing “to lose” and reasons that “any ni**a” in a similar predicament would do the same. So most simply, it’s like he’s been tempted and resultantly makes a pact with the devil. 

And sure enough the devil makes good on his promise as X finds himself rich, driving different types of cars and traveling around the world. So his life has definitely transformed from his aforementioned days of depression. 

In fact X is so impressed with Damien’s commitment that he asserts he would ‘give him his right hand’ for his buddy if the situation called for it – a statement that will come back to haunt him later on considering that, after all, this is Damien he’s dealing with.

And as time progresses, they do form a friendship. Or that’s at least how the titular character describes their association. He has done the aforementioned favors for DMX, so now he ‘needs a favor’ in return. 

And simply put, Damien has beef with some dudes and wants X to smoke them. And DMX, being the loyal, street-based homey who he is, proceeds to do so. In fact he ends up shooting six people altogether, killing at least two of them in the process. 

Damien wants DMX to spill more blood

So after going on such a massive murder spree, now it’s like he just wants to chill. Or viewed differently, he feels that he has proven his commitment to Damien, considering that he’s murdered people and all. But Damien instead wants him to kill even more. 

And next on the hit list is actually a homey whom DMX has been friends with for some years. So X is like ‘nay, I can’t do it; that dude is my friend’. Then Damien counters by asserting that he thought he was rather X’s friend. But the latter still refuses, as obviously he can’t conceptualize himself killing a homey who never did anything to offend him in the first place.

But then he reminds DMX that he did in fact say that he would ‘give his right hand’ for him. Moreover remember that this is a “blood out, blood in” type of situation. So X not doing what Damien commands is akin to him breaking their aforementioned contract. 

And in order to do so, his own blood is going to have to be shed in the process. Indeed it is very reasonable to postulate that the aforementioned dudes whom Damien sent DMX to kill were likewise individuals who at one time made such deals with him. 

So in realizing just how deeply he’s gotten himself into trouble, X is able to perceive that “now ain’t nothing but trouble ahead” concerning his relationship with the devil.

Chorus

Meanwhile concerning the chorus, the line “the snake, the rat, the cat, the dog” doesn’t really seem to mean anything per se. The purpose of the phrase is primarily to illustrate different types of characters. 

More-telling is the question that comes after it, “how you gonna see him if you living in a fog?”  That’s another way of saying that it becomes impossible to identify “Damien” if the person he is targeting is blinded by his or her own worldly fantasies. Indeed what Damien represents, being tempted by the devil, is not an experience exclusive to the narrator.

Lyrics of "Damien"

What the lyrics of “Damien” are all about

So conclusively, we can say that this is DMX’s take on the classic tale of a person selling their soul to the devil for money and fame. As such stories tend to go, at first the person is chllin’, enjoying the worldly fruits of this ill-advised association. But later on, inevitably, the devil, or “Damien” as he is called in this song, comes to collect. 

And considering all of the conspiracy theories the internet has become awash with in recent years concerning musicians literally making pacts with dark forces to achieve the same goal as mentioned above, in hindsight it’s almost as if this song was prophetic, or perhaps we can even say based on some type of insider knowledge.

Writing Credits and Release Date

DMX (1970-2021) wrote this song alongside its producer, a Harlem-based musician by the name of Dame Grease.  Grease is one of the individuals who helped ‘establish the sound of Ruff Ryders Entertainment’, the primary label that X was signed to at the time. And it was in fact Ruff Ryders, along with Def Jam Records, that put this song out on 12 May 1998.

Success of “Damien”

“Damien” was never released as a single. However, it is still considered a DMX classic, being featured on his first album, “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” (1998), which proved to be mega successful. 

And also just to note, X dropped two sequels to this song. The second installment, which is entitled “The Omen”, is actually a collaboration with Marilyn Manson and is found on the rapper’s sophomore album, “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood” (1998).  And “Damien III” is featured on DMX’s fourth full-length, 2001’s “The Great Depression”.

Did Mos Def actually feature on this track?

There have been rumors circulating online that the character of Damien is voiced by Mos Def, another popular NYC rapper/actor. But in reality DMX is the only vocalist featured.

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