Rapper DMX, whose given name is Earl Simmons, leaves federal court in New York, Aug. 11, 2017. Credit: Larry Newmeister | AP

Editor’s note: We are resharing this story from 2019 following DMX’s death in April 2021.

Before this past weekend, 12-year-old Grace Firley, a seventh grader at Ellsworth Elementary Middle School, didn’t know who rapper DMX was.

But now she’s a huge fan, after the rapper and actor bought her and her older sister, 20-year-old Sierra, new shoes while they were back-to-school shopping with their mother on Saturday at the Maine Mall.

“Oh, she loves DMX now. She told me she downloaded everything he’d ever done,” said Grace’s mother, Nikki Cutchens. “She’s got her DMX shoes now.”

Credit: Courtesy of Nikki Cutchens

Cutchens, a Bucksport native, and her daughters had been combing through the Maine Mall all day, looking for shoes. Grace wanted new Vans, and Sierra wanted brightly colored Converse All-Stars. They finally settled on Journey’s, a mall shoe store. They picked out their new kicks and went up to the counter to cash out.

Grace put the shoeboxes on the counter next to another man, who had several boxes of Timberland shoes already on the counter, and Cutchens told her not to crowd out the other customer as he paid for his merchandise.

“He said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it,’ and then asked us if we were school shopping,” Cutchens said. “I said yes, and he said, ‘Hey, I have 15 kids, I know all about it.’”

Cutchens, who didn’t yet recognize the customer, then said he offered to pay for their shoes.

“I told him, ‘Oh, I can’t let you do that,’ and he told me he’d been blessed in his life as a rapper and a performing artist, and he wanted to bless us, too,” Cutchens said. “I said ‘Thank you so much’ and asked him what his name was, and he said ‘DMX’ and then my jaw dropped.”

The rapper, known for hit singles such as “Party Up” and “X Gon’ Give It To Ya,” was in town as a last-minute replacement for rapper Wiz Khalifa, who was supposed to headline a concert at the Maine Savings Pavilion in Westbrook on Saturday. Wiz Khalifa reportedly broke his ankle Friday night during a mixed martial arts training session and had to cancel his performance at Hot 104.7’s Hot Summer 2019 showcase, which also featured performers including A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Ally Brooke, YK Osiris and Big Freedia.

DMX paid for Grace and Sierra’s shoes, and then everybody hugged it out.

“It was just the coolest thing. We came back and took pictures with him afterwards. He couldn’t have been nicer,” Cutchens said. “It was just a genuinely nice thing to do.”

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.