‘Uncensored: DMX’ Producers Nikki Byles and Jay Allen Detail How the Icon’s Final Interview Happened

Three weeks before the untimely death of one of the greatest rappers of all time, DMX, the icon sat down with the cameras of TVOne’s Uncensored for the most transparent interview of his to death.

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The popular docuseries, which is currently in its third season, dives into the private lives of celebrities, allowing for them to tell their stories in a way they only could, highlighting hot topics and untold stories they encountered along the way.

The interview was produced by Jay Allen and Nikki Byles of Swirl Films, who spoke with The Source about how the interview came about and the impressions left on them by the late rapper heading, how the interview came into form and more.


Congratulations on getting this interview done. In this moment of having your work out into the world. How do you feel?

Nikki: So the beautiful thing about this interview is we had a chance to body connect with X on a different level. So we were excited to be able to give them a platform to share stories. We hear his stories in bits and pieces but it was good to get it in a linear way. So even before he passed, we were just excited to be able to tell the story that way and have him tell it in his own words. We were hoping for it to be a resurgence but we are happy to have given him a platform. Well, we always want to make sure that our people get to get their point across while they’re still here. No matter what X does you never thought that he wouldn’t be here. So we were grateful that he let us help him tell his story, but it’s extremely hurtful that he’s not here to see it.

How did just the entire creation of this interview happen?

Jay: Well, we originally reached out a while ago and it was during the time that they were doing the Ruff Ryders Chronicles. So he couldn’t do it then. After that, he was touring, then making his album. Every time we reached out it was a scheduling thing. The last time we reached out, he was ready, we were ready and it just happened.

And it was, and it was almost like serendipity because we’re based out of Atlanta. So while we were in Atlanta planning, we’re talking to him in New York and then we fly up to New York to meet with a team. And then he’s in Atlanta for All-Star weekend, you know what I mean? And then we fly back to Atlanta from talking to his team and he’s back in New York. So we kept passing each other. But there was something special coming in timing because he was not on the scene for a while, but for him to come back and do Drink Champs and Verzuz and all of these viral videos. The timing was just perfect.

Your interview comes right when a lot is coming out around DMX. On a personal level, beyond the connection to X, how does it feel for you individually to create something that is so special to Hip-Hop culture?

Nikki: Well, for me, anything that can further push his legacy is great. I know we are doing it but it’s for him. Like I don’t get on TV and talk about nothing. Like leave me alone, let me do the stuff behind the camera. But this man has me talking to you. He has me on TV. He has me doing stuff but it’s on the strength of him making sure that people know the legacy of him, it’s all for him. It’s not for anything else. And again, I know it’s dope that we got the interview and that’s great, but it’s all for him.

Jay: And for me, I’m a little more Diddy. I danced on the stage, but I’ll say like for X it’s different. I think for us, we were more excited from a cultural standpoint of having a cohesive piece because he felt misunderstood he never gets a platform, and even when he did it felt like somebody else is controlling the narrative. So I think what I’m most proud of is that we gave him a platform to be able to tell his stories. This interview is probably one of the best I’ve seen him. Like, he looks good in the interview. His stories are complete. Everything is well thought out. So I’m proud that we’re able to present the best X. And I feel like, for the culture, people will be proud because the theme of this episode is closure. He’s very thoughtful in the answers he’s ranked in his answers. He brings closure to a lot of the relationships in his life in a way that I’m just proud of for both of us, the company, and the culture.

When it was time to record and get his stories across, was there a conversation had about what you were hoping to receive from it?

Jay: One thing he made for certain, he said, I don’t want to talk about any beef with any rappers and he said, I don’t want to bash anybody. So even when he talked about the hard relationship that he had with his mother, he starts the segment off by saying like, my mother may see this and I never want to do anything that’s gonna hurt her. And, he proceeded to tell how they build their relationships. He came in with a clear head and he was vulnerable with us.

Nikki: He came with a clear mind and said there would be no beef. The only person he got beef with is Maury.

Maury Povich? (The Maury Clip is available in slide 8)

Nikki: Oh yeah. Oh, absolutely. With Maury it is on site.

Jay: There’s a funny clip that didn’t make the episode, but we don’t put it out. We might leak that.

Creating this interview and then he passed, was there weight in it being televised?

Jay: The tough part, I have to tee this up because I don’t want to create a facade like we had this deep relationship. But a night before the interview in New York, X wants to meet up. X calls Nikki and pretty much was like where y’all at? Nikki tells me he is coming. In my mind, he is going to come with this big entourage and fanfare. He pulls up with just Daniel and the memory is that he took us out to eat, paid for everything. When we got to the restaurant in Harlem it was closed but they opened up for us. We just sat there and ate. Throughout the night, several rappers were FaceTiming him and just asking for life advice and he gave it to them. He was so excited about this album and let us hear songs. He’s a giant, a legend, we all grew up on X at some point, so for him passing, that’s what weighed the most on me. Just having all of that happen in short succession.

Nikki: It was like I’m not even gonna lie, like the going out with him. And then we made plans. Like he was coming from my birthday. He was going to come to Atlanta for my birthday. We talk about the album release parties we were going to have and the project that was coming up. And we just didn’t get enough time. Like my birthday is the 14th of April. So it’s like, I just talked to you. You don’t expect it because again, you don’t think that he’s not going to be here. Yeah.

To end on a lighter note, was there a memory or story he expressed that stood out with you?

Jay: So one of the proudest moments in his career was just like being mentioned in Unsigned Hype from The Source. And he talks about how he was so excited about that and how he carried the magazine around and showed it to everybody. And that was like the moment that he really knew he made it. I think the most memorable moment for me is he has a story that he talks about making the “Back In One Piece” video and Aaliyah and she had on a shirt with no sleeves and he was just trying to warm her arms up.

Nikki: For me, it’s Maury. That really tore me up.

Jay: And he didn’t even really go into Maury. Like we have a clip of it, but when I tell you, he ranted about Maury in person off-camera…

Nikki: That was my thing. I can’t, I can’t decipher the story he told us. And then the stories he told the cameras, that’s what I’m trying to be very careful because you know, I’m not a snitch, so I can’t really say what he told us off-camera.