Although DMX’s final album was this year’s haunting Exodus, which featured appearances from Jay-Z and Nas, the Griselda crew, and more, it turns out that there’s another full album from the late, great rap pioneer floating around. Titled Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later, it was a double album recorded in 2008 while DMX lived in Arizona, with one side consisting of his usual gritty rap and the second consisting of profanity-free gospel rap. According to a new feature in Rolling Stone, the album was actually completed, but later shelved in the wake of a police raid of his home.
According to Rolling Stone, while living in Arizona, DMX was subject to a campaign of harassment by the then-Sheriff of Maricopa County. Subjects interviewed said that DMX lived under a state of constant surveillance and was arrested multiple times for relatively minor infractions, most related to traffic incidents or parole violations stemming from his 2007 arrest for animal cruelty. Unfortunately, a stint in prison for those charges left him unable to promote a release of the album, and by the time he was free to do so, the label that had bankrolled it, Bodog Music, had been shut down. A Canadian label called Her Royal Majesty’s Records wound up with the album rights to Walk With Me Now and You’ll Fly With Me Later, but due to DMX’s history, was unwilling to commit resources to a proper release.
Some of the songs have since leaked in low-quality YouTube uploads. The rights bounced around, from Seven Arts Entertainment, which released DMX’s album Undisputed in 2012, to a Canadian businessman named Howard Mann who won the rights at an auction when Seven Arts executives were convicted of tax fraud (maybe Issa Rae was right, after all). Meanwhile, DMX’s estate considers Mann pretty untrustworthy as well, saying through their attorney, “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. 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.”
You can read the full, long-form essay about DMX’s time in Arizona here.