Swirl Films producers Jay Allen and Nikki Byles sat down with the star, who died on April 9 aged 50, to reflect on his life and career for the TV One series Uncensored. Three weeks later he collapsed at his home in New York, suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma.
‘If you watch this interview, it’s pretty hard to deny he looked better than I’ve ever seen in my life,’ Jay told Metro.co.uk, adding that the rapper was ‘laughing and joking’ on set.
‘From my standpoint, there wasn’t anything that felt wrong or off. We were with him the night before too, that was a cohesive 48 hours where he was in the best spirit that I’ve ever seen him in.’
‘He had a little cough because he ain’t have his coat on, but he was fine,’ Nikki, a huge DMX fan, agreed.
She also recalled how ‘surreal’ it felt when he arrived to film the interview.
‘His music was playing as he walked in,’ she said. ‘It was just wild to see him come in, take the pictures for the behind the scenes shots, and finally he goes to sit down and talk about his life. It was a moment. I guess that’s literally all you can call it.’
Jay described the interview as ‘cohesive’ and something that goes beyond the highly publicised highs and lows of his life.
‘And he is hilarious,’ Nikki chimed in. ‘He’s so funny. He has the driest humour. The stories he tells, you don’t even know. He just pulls you in.’
The pair feel fans of the X Gon’ Give It To Ya star will see the interview as a form of ‘episode closure’ as he moved into a new chapter that included his album Exodus (which is being released posthumously).
Jay, also a DMX fan, shared: ‘He was big on not wanting to talk about any rapper beef, he didn’t want to talk about bad parts of his relationships. He purposely brought closure to the hard times he had with his mum and the struggles he had over his life. It was almost poetic. It was the beginning of a linear story that I have never heard and I don’t think the fans have either.’
Asked how they felt knowing that they were among the last people to sit down for a filmed interview with X, real name Earl Simmons, Jay said they had hoped it would launch a ‘resurgence’ of his music and fans would be hearing a lot more from him.
‘Over the last year he did Verzuz, he did our show, our goal was the excitement of his resurgence. We hate the fact it’s the last interview, we wish it was the first interview of his resurgence,’ he said.
A saddened Nikki declined to answer the question as the thought was ‘too hard’, but revealing her thoughts on DMX’s upcoming album – which both producers got to listen to ahead of the sit down – her passion was clear.
Telling us that the rapper was ‘excited’ to release new music – which, unusually for the star, includes features – she revealed the songs sound ‘like old X’.
‘It’s definitely songs that, had he been able to perform them, it would have got out of hand,’ she laughed, ‘it’s just like seeing Get At Me Dog or Party Up being performed.
‘It’s definitely songs for real rap fans but it has something for everyone.’
Part one of the two-part special, Uncensored DMX, airs Sunday, May 16 at 8 pm ET/PT on TVOne in the US.
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