DMX’s “Slippin'” Lyrics Meaning
DMX is an artist who, as a musician, is known primarily for dropping amped-up party anthems. But long-time fans of the rapper also know that when he was first establishing a name for himself he dropped many personal, more heartfelt songs.
Indeed looking at his life throughout the decades, with X even reportedly being on his deathbed as the result of a drug overdose as of the writing of this post, “Slippin’” especially seems to be quite prophetic.
An why? This is because from a personal standpoint the chorus is based on his tendency to engage in addictive behavior, like drug abuse. Indeed the term “slipping”, as used within, is related to the concept of backsliding, i.e. a person continually engaging in a self-destructive behavior despite attempts to break such a modus operandi.
But DMX also has his motivational moments, and the concluding sentiment of the chorus is that he has to overcome these issues so that he can operate at a maximum capacity.
Primary Theme of “Slippin'”
And even though DMX began abusing hard drugs since the age of 14, long before he became a professional rapper, that is not solely what this song is about. Rather it begins with the hardships he has faced in life in general, as established in the intro.
Or more precisely he recognizes that life is tough not only for himself but also many others, that we have to not only “survive” but also “find meaning in the suffering”. And such a disposition would also explain the above-mentioned motivational tone of the chorus.
The first verse commences with X insinuating that, like many other inner-city young Black men, he is not overly confident that he will enjoy a long life. But he is determined to do so anyway in the name of seeing his children grow up to be “constructive” citizens as opposed to criminals.
And one of the reasons he is so dedicated to such a cause is because his own life’s trajectory led to trouble with the law, as well as imprisonment, in his youth. Indeed he was a wild lad, lashing out against his own mom for instance.
But at the end of the day, he wasn’t actually bad. Rather he was raised by the streets, being indoctrinated in how to conduct himself as a man by the rules of the ghetto as opposed to say an actual father, who is never even mentioned. So it’s like he was pubescent, trying to make it in life the ‘hood way. And in retrospect, he realizes at the time that his was actually “headed nowhere fast”.
And for the record, DMX was in fact born to an absentee dad who deserted him at birth. He also gives a shoutout to his only friend during that period of time, i.e. ‘his dog’. And whereas X commonly uses the phrase “dog” to refer to his male friends, in this case it might be literal, as he displayed a strong affinity for canines even from a young age.
Moreover he did in fact spend time institutionalized even before reaching his teens and has spent notable time locked up from the age of 16 onwards.
And with that in mind, the second verse does begin with the vocalist noting that as time progressed, so did the seriousness of his criminal activities.
In fact he began “catching (victims), throwing bricks (and) getting by being slick”, which respectively mean he engaged in violent robberies, dealt drugs and participated in frauds. He also alludes to early drug abuse in the form of weed, beer and coke. The latter two especially encouraged him to engage in crime. And eventually taking these drugs started to take their toll, as in making the narrator noticeably disheveled.
Thus by the beginning of the third verse we have him “hit(tin) rock bottom”, i.e. becoming a publicly-acknowledged crackhead. But again, he knows he must change his ways in light of giving birth to a son.
And this realization causes him to stop “getting high” and “drinking”. In the aftermath, X’s health visibly improved, and the people who were hating before are now sweatin’ him.
The People who Supported X
Then DMX gives a shoutout to all of the homeys who continuously tried to guide him in the right direction, with their encouragement obviously proving effective. In fact it is they whom this song is dedicated to, as well as the girlfriend who also stayed by his side “through all the bullsh*t”. Indeed now that he has blown up, he promises to make her right.
A Summary of what “Slippin'” is all about
So in all, this song implies that DMX was once a troublemaker and drug addict but eventually overcame those issues. And perhaps, as far as the drugs go, at one point he had in fact bested them. But unfortunately more slipping was in his future, and he has suffered serious overdoses, stints in rehab and trouble with the law as a result.
But that does not take away from the fact that this song is intended to be inspirational in nature. And ultimately the lesson being relayed is that despite continuous failures, one must still keep striving to do what is right. And DMX uses his own early failures and success over them as a living, down-to-earth example.
Release Date of “Slippin'”
Being released on 27 November 1998, this is the lead single from DMX’s sophomore album, which is entitled “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”.
The labels that released it are Def Jam Records and one that X has been associated with throughout his career, Ruff Ryders. The album itself was a major success in his American homeland. It actually even topped the Billboard 200 as well as their Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. At the end of the day, it achieved triple-platinum certification via the RIAA.
The song was also a moderate hit, being RIAA-certified gold and making it onto the top 30 of the UK Singles Chart.
A singer by the name of Tamyra Gray provided additional vocals to this track. American Idol fans may recognize her as a Simon Cowell-celebrated contestant from the very-first season of the show in 2002, ultimately finishing in fourth place.
Writing and Production
“Slippin'” was produced by DJ Shok, a hip-hop musician who, like DMX, is from Upstate New York and the selfsame Westchester County. And in putting the instrumental together, he sampled a song by Grover Washington Jr. (1943-1999) entitled “Moonstreams” (1975).
As such the late Grover Washington Jr. is also credited with writing “Slippin'”, as are DJ Shok and DMX.
Does this song have any relationship with Meek Mill’s “Slippin'”?
Yes. This track inspired a song dropped by Meek Mill, also entitled “Slippin’”, which was released in 2016.
“Slippin'” saves DMX from a lengthy Jail Sentence
Throughout his career, DMX found himself in trouble with the law more times than we can count. And in one particular instance in 2018, while facing a tax fraud charge where he was owing nearly $2 million to the man, he played “Slippin’” in an attempt to solicit sympathy from the judge about to sentence him.
And it did work in a roundabout way, as in X was sentenced to only one year imprisonment as opposed to the five years the prosecution was hoping to lock him down for.