He wants the art to speak for himself.
Rapper DMX and his legal team believe playing his hip-hop records in court might convince a federal judge in Manhattan to give him a softer sentence on tax-evasion charges.
The rapper’s attorney, Murray Richman, penned a letter this week asking to play DMX’s 1998 songs “Slippin’” and “Convo,” as well as the album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood at his sentencing on Wednesday.
DMX’s lawyers said the 47-year-old rapper, who’s also known as Earl Simmons, may be too emotional to speak during the hearing—and argued that the music will help U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff understand him “genuinely in his voice.”
“It was a salvation of sort to shut out the noise,” Richman said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We are not here or desirous of molding him into what some may want to see; Earl is uniquely him and that is both his beauty of mind and his genius.”
Last year, DMX pleaded guilty to evading $1.7 million in taxes and could face up to 15 years in prison.
This is his first hearing since Rakoff slammed the Yonkers-based rapper as a “flight risk” in January and locked him up for testing positive for cocaine, opioids, and oxycodone.
According to court documents, DMX’s manager and producer, Pat Gallo, fears that if the rapper is imprisoned, he will be forced to drop out of several contractual gigs, which his lawyers say will land him in “financial quicksand.”
The artist’s lawyers also defended his criminal history, saying “it’s not intentional” but “part of an illness,” referring to his battle with drug addiction.
“He is in a way quite like a kid who does mischief for attention; however at his age, the scale of the offending mischief is life-altering,” Richman wrote.
The letter described his music as “modern gospel” and said his lyrics have aided addicts in their recovery.
“During the height of your career I was strung out on heroin sniffling drugs all day every day,” wrote Angie, one of DMX’s “biggest fans” in Baltimore, according to fan mail included in the court document. “I will be clean 13 years this April, I listen to your music daily like it just came out.”
She added that she “cried” when the rapper canceled his Ruff Ryder tour.
According to Richman’s letter, DMX’s music will allow him to be understood as a “human being.” It adds that the rapper is a “child of chaos” and his “self-undoing is oft the result in his belief that he himself is not worthy.”
The Daily Beast reached out to DMX’s manager, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment.