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Five on it: DMX’s passing is a reminder to show artists love while they’re still here

Following the untimely death of DMX there was an outpouring of love – but should we do more to give flowers in artist's lifetimes?

16 Apr 2021

In last week’s column, I mused upon the mental health of artists and why the music industry needs to do better. Aside from being weird and objectifying, the commodification of high-profile talent leaves them reeling in their own whirlwind and dehumanises their needs for profit. It’s a bit sick, when you stop to think about it, especially when you cross the threshold from appreciative fan to unhealthy stan; all of a sudden, pop stars are enveloped by people who want something from them, innocently or not, online or off.

The untimely death of DMX last weekend following a heart attack – with speculation of drug involvement due to his history with addiction – sent shockwaves through social media. Passing at the age of 50 feels criminally young, despite man-behind-the-moniker Earl Simmons having had a poignant career in the late 90s and early 00s. And despite that, when the news broke, I had no active recollection of who DMX was. After a few days, I meekly messaged the group chat asking for insight, with the response (suitably) being “is this another one of your bad jokes?” It wasn’t, but apparently we had got down to DMX’s ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’ on a night out in the Old World. 

“As the saying goes, you should give your loved ones flowers while they’re still here to smell them”

There is something quite disorienting about being a spectator to grief that you have no bearing on, especially when it feels as if you’re the only individual not privy to the intricacies of why a person is so revered and loved. When David Bowie passed suddenly back in 2016, the reaction was immediate and raw with the influence he had left on both the history of music and musicians themselves. Death is all the more gutting when accompanied with an element of tragedy; it’s been almost a decade since Amy Winehouse passed at the age of 27, a highly documented tabloid affair that left us collectively feeling as if we’d experienced much of her hardship with her, and her family’s heartache with them. 

Both Bowie’s and Winehouse’s deaths and visceral outpouring of fans led to vigils and impromptu street parties, a celebration in the midst of communal sadness, but – as we all know too well – the Covid-19 era does not allow for this. Earlier this year, a grief I could relate to was the shocking death of SOPHIE, whose work I was far more familiar with and felt connected to. I recall being sat in bed refreshing Twitter in disbelief, especially as the news from official channels was so slow to drip through. 

At a time when we’re still restricted from “frivolous” gatherings, what else can we do but seek out our tribe online in some meagre spectre of connection? Still, it makes me wonder if we’re expressive enough of our respectful appreciation of artists whilst they’re with us – and not just in the manner of the aforementioned selfish exchange. As the saying goes, you should give your loved ones flowers while they’re still here to smell them.

daine – ‘boys wanna txt’ (feat. ericdoa)

You may recognise daine as one of gal-dem’s ones to watch for 2021, and the time since has seen the Filipino-Australian talent quickly soar with her catchy brand of hyperpop. Bulky bass notes, rippling synths and a frantic energy – thanks in part to 100gecs’ Dylan Brady – tap into daine’s digitised dalliances; think of it as if binary code went into overdrive.

Josie Man – ‘Little Space for Me’

Taking her latest single down the more sentimental route, ‘Little Space for Me’ sees Josie Man dial down her sweet pop sound for a heart-tugging slice of nostalgia. “Were you ever gonna tell me that happiness can make you sad?” she quips, recalling childhood advice from her mother. Led by mournful keys, her soft, honeyed tones make this bittersweet.

Greentea Peng – ‘Kali V2’

Dropping with the announcement of her anticipated debut album MAN MADE, Greentea Peng’s latest cut ‘Kali V2’ pays tribute to the Hindu goddess of death and rebirth whilst ruminating on societal pains and political frustrations. A hazy trip of a track, its meditative rhythm carries a lucid edge.

Paris Texas – ‘FORCE OF HABIT’

After creating a stir with their first two singles, Paris Texas have shared that their debut EP BOY ANONYMOUS will be with us in mid-May. Until then, ‘FORCE OF HABIT’ is a more dialled-down affair than their prior moody rawness, striking a sauntering swagger and the closest they’ve got to a catchy chorus – think IGOR-era Tyler, the Creator.

Emotional Oranges – ‘Down to Miami’ (feat. Becky G)

LA duo Emotional Oranges have been cranking out the singles this year. Their fourth to be taken from their upcoming JUICEBOX project thus far, ‘Down to Miami’ enlists Latin-pop superstar Becky G for a rhythmic and silky-smooth portion of R&B.