I Gave My Grandma Master P's 1995 Album Ice Cream Man. It Didn't End How I'd Hoped
First there was this, the video of DMX, a man who built a career being scarier than nuclear war, charming everyone's pants off with a Christmas carol about a reindeer with a nose that is both excellent (Kids: "Yay! Red nose! You're adorable, Rudolph!") and terrible (Doctors: "Oh no. Red nose. You're going to die, Rudolph.").
Then I was reminded me of this: In 1998, for reasons that are too dense and knotted to unravel, my grandmother, MY ANGEL OF A GRANDMOTHER, bought me DMX's It's Dark And Hell Is Hot for Christmas. There are a bunch of reasons why I thought it was peculiar then, and why I still think it was peculiar today:
For one thing because she was my grandmother and not my drug dealer, obvs. (That's probably a lazy joke more than a good one. I mean, drug dealers don't give out too many gifts, probably, at least not to their customers. Or, I guess unless you consider the time an acquaintance of mine contracted hepatitis from hers a gift, in which case your house probably has shitty Christmases.)
For another thing, as far as I could tell, she disregarded nearly everything about rap music. It was partly because her age, sure, but it was also in part because of the Spanish blood she had in her EVERYTHING. I remember playing Questionmark Asylum's brilliantly lackadaisical 1995 single "Hey Look Away" for her once. Her immediate response was something akin to: "Wha--I don't know. I wasn't listening to that. Open this jar for me."
But there was always one reason that was more perplexing than the others, and one I still think is perplexing today.
The DMX album had come out several months prior, which I remember because I spent the entire summer playing the "Ruff Ryders Anthem" over and over again, like every other human with ears. (Quick aside: There was also what I'd argue is maybe the greatest rap love song ever written on there --"How's It Going Down" -- and I pretend rapped it to just about every person with boobs who bothered to look at me that summer.) I played it enough to where even my grandmother recognized what I was playing. I mean, there was no reason for her to assume that I didn't already own the album (which I did). And I know she knew DMX was responsible for the song because I spent, like, two weeks trying to get everyone I knew to call me "DMS." (You know, for Shea.)
So when I opened it, when I saw X glaring at me through the torn wrapping paper, my brain melted. I told her thank you and I hugged her and I kissed her and yeah. It might've been nothing, but it definitely wasn't nothing. And the more I thought about it, the more I considered the notion that something more substantial was in place, that things were maybe going to change irrevocably.