My heart broke at news that DMX had died.

As I processed his death, one DMX lyric in particular stuck in my brain.

Dark Man X was the last rapper to perform on Bad Boy artist Ma$e’s hit song, 24 Hours to Live, which was released on Feb. 20th, 1998.

In the late 1990s, hip-hop collaboration songs had a formula.

The rapper that was the hottest out with the hardest verse always appeared last.

And DMX always appeared last.

Lots of rappers were great.

But none could match his aggression and energy.

You couldn’t rap after DMX.

After explaining how he would spend the final 24 hours of his life in lyrical form, DMX laments, “I wanted to live forever … but this isn’t FAME.”

The reference, for those of you not old enough to remember, is from the theme song of the TV show Fame, in which Irene Cara sings “I wanna live forever.”

I often write at the intersection of faith and culture. My next book Does Heaven Have a Ghetto? Jesus & The Hip-Hop Martyrs imagines a conversation between Jesus, Biggie & 2 Pac. Ironically, DMX often rapped about the same intersection of faith and culture where I write.

A longing to be closer to God and defeat his demons seemed to be a consistent theme in his music. I should clarify that it’s not the only theme of his music, and much of DMX’s other material would be difficult to reconcile to the gospel.

If you read his autobiography E.A.R.L., it gives context to how he reached that point. It’s not an easy story to read.

I just wished we could have seen DMX defeat his demons, and that we were celebrating that rather than mourning his death.

As I pondered on DMX’s death – which like Kobe has left so many people feeling like they lost a friend they never actually met – I’m reminded that death is truly awful.

I had a friend my age (early 40s) and my grandmother die in the same hospice facility.

My grandmother lived a long life.

It felt like we lost my friend way too soon.

But both were hard.

Because death is hard.

In fact, the only time death has been worth celebrating is when death died.

As we just celebrated Easter, we’re reminded that there was only One that death couldn’t hold.

And those who place their trust in Christ alone for assurance of salvation can have that same hope.

Death won’t be a period for us. Only a comma.

We can live forever.

But this isn’t Fame.

It’s the good news of the gospel.

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