DMX, the rapper born Earl Simmons, died at the age of 50 after an overdose-induced heart attack and a days-long battle on life support. His legacy will always include his major influence on hip hop through his style, lyrics and vulnerability.
“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him. Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever,” the Simmons family said in a statement.
Following a heart attack, DMX was hospitalized in the ICU of New York’s White Plains Hospital. He spent his final days fighting and on life support as family visited and as the prayer vigil grew outside the hospital.
“He walked into a room, he lit up the room. He couldn’t help making you feel good in his presence,” Murray Richman, DMX’s lawyer, told the New York Times.
DMX lived a complex life, frequently crossing a middle ground between pain and healing, addiction and sobriety, anger and forgiveness. Through it all, he was open and vulnerable about his experiences. He leaned into and celebrated his faith. He forever influenced hip hop with his signature barking style, versatility in lyricism and sheer creativity.
Born on December 18, 1970, Simons was raised in Yonkers, New York and faced a difficult and painful childhood at the hands of his mother and her boyfriends’ abuse. This moved him to find refuge outside of home.
When Earl Simmons turned to hip hop and became DMX, it was a saving grace. But his early career was scarred by a betrayal that haunted his life thereafter.
DMX started beatboxing at 14 with local New York rapper Ready Ron who helped introduce him to rap. Ron introduced him to other things, too. In an emotional interview with UPROXX, DMX talked about how he looked up to Ready Ron as the bigger brother he never had. But one night, DMX said, Ron tricked him into smoking a blunt laced with crack that forever affected him.
“Why would you do that do a child? He knew I looked up to him. He knew I looked up to him. Why would you do that to someone who looks up to you?” DMX said. “A monster was born. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy.”
According to his autobiography, he began taking rap seriously and dedicating his time to writing lyrics after serving time in prison. His career began gaining traction in the early 90s, and he worked with greats like Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz.
His 1998 debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, includes some of his most well-known tracks, like “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Get At Me Dog.” His 1999 album …And Then There Was X also included major hits like “Party Up.” At the time, he was the only artist ever to have his first two albums debut at No. 1.
Within his decades-long career, he found much success. He had five albums hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, 15 songs chart on the Hot 100 and established himself as an actor and entrepreneur.
DMX was one of the most influential rappers, especially from the east coast, with some calling him the Tupac of the east. He was unapologetic in loving, living and breathing his art while being sincere about his life and struggles. His legacy will be cherished and celebrated as he is mourned.
This story may be updated as new information arises, including on memorial services once his family finalizes and releases details. Check for updates.