DMX made a gospel album, a new Rolling Stone profile by Ben Dandridge-Lemco reveals. The beloved New York rapper, who died after suffering a heart attack in April, recorded Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later in 2008 while living in Arizona, during a dark time in his life and career. It was never released.
X was past the peak of his career — financially, at least — by the time of the project's recording, and his personal life was in shambles: His marriage was deteriorating. He was struggling with drug addiction. And he was a target of police harrassment disproportionate to his crimes under the jurisdiction of notorious Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio.
Walk With Me Now and You'll Fly With Me Later, produced by Pat Gallo (Divine Bars) and featuring backing vocals from local singer Janyce, was meant to be a healing record, according to the profile. Disc 1 was to be hip-hop and Disc 2 gospel: profanity free, uplifting, spiritual mesages. X had traditionally reserved one spot on each of his albums for these types of tracks, and would famously pause his shows to pray. "No songs about bitches, no songs about robbing, just straight ‘Give God the glory,'" he was quoted as saying in anticipation of the record's release. He intended to perform it on a tour of southern megachurches and to eventually open his own church, House of the Afflicted, where he'd focus on preaching to those struggling with homelessness and drug addiction.
But that release never happened and the tour was cut short after just a few dates. X's arrest record caught up with him, and he was eventually sent to jail for a short period of time. Walk With Me Now languished, though a few of its tracks were leeked, released in low quality agaisnt the rapper's will. X's label also ran into legal issues, and the rights to the album eventually went to Seven Arts Entertainment, which released an unauthorized compilation of his unifinished material three years later.
The remainder of the unreleased tracks from the gospel record are on hard drives in the possession of Canadian businessman Howard Mann, who won the rights to Seven Arts' catalog in an auction. Mann expressed an interest to Rolling Stone in working with some of X's past collaborators to recreate the album in the way it was originally meant to be released. But the future of this project is unclear, as X did not leave a will and 14 people have come forward thus far to claim he was their father. Ron Sweeney — a lawyer who worked with X early in his career and now represents three of his sons who have been named co-administrators of his estate — told the magazine X's family was not aligned with Mann's efforts.
“Howard Mann has no authority that we’re aware of and hasn’t shown us anything to reflect that he owns any music that DMX recorded,” Sweeney said. “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.”
The FADER has reached out Mr. Sweeney's law firm and to a representative of Mr. Mann for further comment.