The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Unity through culture


The importance of music in the Black community

The passing of DMX, a legendary Black rapper and actor, on April 9, due to a massive heart attack, is a great loss for the Black community. DMX, born Earl Simmons, created a body of work that was a part of the pinnacle of East Coast rap in the ’90s, and his legacy will live on through Black artists for years to come. 

In the days he was hospitalized before his death, I took time to reflect on the impact Black artists have had on my identity and on unity within the Black community.  

Growing up as a white-presenting Black person, I struggled to find my sense of belonging. But growing up around an all Black family, along with the culture I’ve been exposed to and was a part of, has allowed me to become more rooted in my identity as a Black woman. 

I attribute part of this to my childhood memories of my mom playing rap every time we were in the car. The melodic beats in songs by artists like Fat Joe, Biggie Smalls, Mobb Deep and of course, DMX, have been the background music of my life. 


My experience with this isn’t unique, as music has been a unifying factor in the Black community for hundreds of years, going back to Negro Spirituals from the era of chattel slavery. Music has played a huge part in unifying the Black community through years of trauma and othering in the U.S. 


Take a listen to Big Pun’s “I’m Not a Player” and think to yourself what modern pop song it reminds you of. Ring any bells? 

Black music has not only had an impact on the Black community, but what we consider American culture as well. Just about every genre of music can be linked back to African roots but has been “adopted” by white communities. 

Jazz is the largest example of this, as it’s now considered an “American classic” genre, but it originates from the Black community; a community that has been ostracized, criticized and, quite plainly, ridiculed for its culture and heritage. 

While white America has taken Black culture and tried to make it its own, nothing can compare to the originality of Black music, art and culture. This originality is a part of what it means to be Black in America and what has connected the Black community universally. 

DMX’s passing has been so detrimental to the Black community because of his impact on Black music and culture, as well as bringing members of the Black community together. His legacy will continue to live on as have other legendary Black artists such as Tupac, Biggie, Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, just to name a few. 

While another member of our community has been taken, his influence on upcoming artists will continue for years to come, and the Black community will continue to be unified through our culture and heritage based on the great works of artists such as DMX. 


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