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#9. DMX, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood (1998)
Other works include: It's Dark And Hell Is Hot, Grand Champ
Jonathan Mannion: “I connected with X early. Before anyone really knew him, he was featured on the song ‘4, 3, 2, 1’ with LL, Redman and Method Man. Back then, I would always show up at things that I thought were going to be cool, and people were telling me he was going to be the next cat. So I said, ‘Let’s go take some pictures,’ and I shot some behind-the-scenes photos.
“I took him aside, and we went up in this crazy abandoned building to shoot. He was swinging sticks and growling and yelling. He was animated. I was like, ‘This kid is dope. I don’t know what he does, but I like him.’ The pictures were cool, and I was able to show him some Polaroids. He said, ‘I look crazy. I love that shit. I fuck with you.’
I got 50 gallons of that blood ready for him. It wasn’t real blood, but it had nice viscosity. I begged him to get in it, but he was very reluctant. I said to him, ‘I’ve never steered you wrong, man.’ He was worried he was going to ruin his pants.
“Then, I shot him for The Source, with the two dogs. That became iconic. That image kind of defined his entrance into the game. The label would not be denied that image. I told them, ‘OK, you can have it. Let’s just keep working. I want the cover.’ They said, ‘You got it.’
“That’s when I started working with the Ruff Ryderz. It was unedited grime and grit. Everything was raw and less polished, and It started opening up these lanes for this new vibe that was coming from Yonkers and Uptown.
“I shot his first album cover, and from there, we started to connect. He was already major and had started doing movies and soundtracks, when it was time for Flesh Of My Flesh to come out. He was everybody’s everything and showed up to the shoot exhausted, from being in the studio.
“I never got to talk to him beforehand; the label just told me the album was going to be called Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood. They told me I could do anything I wanted. I warned them that we were going to take some chances, and they were with it. They said, ‘If you can convince him to take the chance, then we’ll take the chance.’
“So I got 50 gallons of that blood ready for him. It wasn’t real blood, but it had nice viscosity. I begged him to get in it, but he was very reluctant. I said to him, ‘I’ve never steered you wrong, man.’ He agreed, but he was worried that he was going to ruin his pants. I said, ‘Wear my pants. I’ll shoot in my boxer shorts.’ I dropped my pants in front of the entire studio. He chuckled, put his arm around me and said, ‘Alright. I’ll do it.’
“I love him for getting in there. I had chills the entire time I was shooting it. It was what he needed. It was that shock value. You want to look away, but you can’t. Everybody was starting to play it safe at that moment, and he continued his focus and plowed through the wall. It was like, ‘I’m not of you guys. I’m different.’”