JOAQUIN “WAAH” DEAN: This album was real horn-driven. Swizz brought a mixture of the East Coast and the South. He’s from the Bronx, but then he went down to Atlanta to finish high school, and he brought back a lot of original music. When he mixed those two regions together, and then he put the Dog on it, you got Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. The heat is on. Matter of fact, X wrote “Heat” in Atlanta.
DAME GREASE: The original version of “Heat,” that shit was crazy. The version on Flesh of My Flesh that Swizz did is hot, too. This older dude that we rented the space from in Georgia — a couple rooms to just work — always had this old dog that was in the house. We opened the back patio for one second, and the dog darted out. Hours later, somebody called the guy and said, “Yo, your dog is dead on the highway.” The dude was so mad, and he pulled out a gun on us like, “You killed my dog.” X was just like, “Fuck you.”
STYLES P: It was a team, a brotherhood, an army. We were trying to make our mark on the land, leave our footprints behind so muhfuckas remembered we was here, and what we gave, and what we did. X brought upper-echelon grit to the game. Shit was epic. High energy, dogs, motorcycles, lotta homies, lotta hunger, rough days. It was a crazy lifestyle.
DMX: The album is a journey. With “Ready to Meet Him,” I wanted to end on a prayer because that’s what we started with, and I wanted the last thing you hear to be a conversation with the Lord.
TINA DAVIS: DMX does not play with God. He’ll test you and test you. If you don’t have the same feeling or spirituality, he kind of backs away. He was so spiritual that you just kind of let him do what he does. He was a really good person so you trusted his vision. Irv would pull out [DMX’s] ideas and they would be rough on the edges. Irv would shine it, fix it, and make it right, but not take it too far away from what DMX had in his mind or what Waah had in his mind.
SWIZZ BEATZ: I remember seeing the album cover and I was like, “Come on Dog, we taking it too goddamn far with this.” He’s covered in blood — what the fuck is this? But X allowing himself to do that on the cover of his album is an art piece. It was horror film grimy. I hadn’t ever seen anything like that before. I can’t say I loved it at that time. It grew on me when I realized how groundbreaking it was.
JONATHAN MANNION (album photographer): Originally, we were supposed to shoot [the cover] in New York, but we had to switch to L.A. because X was so busy at the time. His popularity was through the roof. The label said I wouldn’t be able to speak to him before, but they gave me the title and told me I could do anything I wanted. It was a risk to put him in a pool of blood. Everybody instantly thinks violence and horror, but in my mind, why isn’t it a protection thing — covered in the blood of Christ? I went with the white [background] to evoke this peaceful, prayerful side of him, which speaks clearly to faith and his belief in himself. The red was the intensity of the delivery of his message. You couldn’t look away.
DMX: I was fucking freezing. Freezing! With jeans on. I’m talking bone-chilling cold.
JONATHAN MANNION: The whole time I was shooting I had chills, just knowing we were doing something different for the entire genre, but also for him. X was willing to go there with me.
SWIZZ BEATZ: One thing about X, he just embraces love. He don’t care about what kind of love, he just embraced the love. When fans started embracing him after “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” it was a whole different audience and that led to movies and things like that. I’m glad that he embraced that because it was a challenge for us. We were being very competitive at that time — trying to have the biggest win, which we did.
DMX: PK was definitely instrumental, too. His beats brought out emotion. He did the “Bring Your Whole Crew” beat. I was gonna lay the hook, and he ended up doing it. We all thought that he sounded like Ice Cube when he did that. It was kinda funny because we were in L.A. I was like, “Oh shit, this nigga went and got Ice Cube to get on the song,” but it turned out to be PK. I had good chemistry with all the producers. We were all in house. We were walking the dog together, for a long time.
SWIZZ BEATZ: All I was doing was scoring the movie, he wrote the script. I took it like that — I’m scoring the film, and it’s a scary film. With “The Omen,” it was X playing his roles and his theatrical style, him and Marilyn Manson. We was going way far on that song. I was producing Marilyn Manson at that time. We were just having fun with it and thinking big at that time. Like, “We can cross over into the rock world! OK, let’s go. X is a rockstar.” They loved him.