DMX, one of the more provocative rappers of the mid-’90s who was the antithesis to the flashy world of Sean Combs’ Bad Boy and JAY-Z in New York, has passed away. He was 50.
On Friday (April 9), his family released a statement writing, “We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50-years-old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days. 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. We appreciate all of the love and support during this incredibly difficult time. Please respect our privacy as we grieve the loss of our brother, father, uncle and the man the world knew as DMX. We will share information about his memorial service once details are finalized.”
X, born Earl Simmons had been hospitalized for nearly a week after suffering a heart attack in his New York home. According to multiple reports, when police discovered him, he had been without oxygen for over 30 minutes. He was transported to a hospital in White Plains, New York, where he was placed on life support.
His family and millions of fans hoped he would pull through, but his condition had not improved. Sadly, his family made the difficult decision on Friday to remove life support for the rapper as his organs had begun failing.
Fans held numerous prayer vigils for the rapper throughout the week.
“Def Jam Recordings and the extended Def Jam family of artists, executives and employees are deeply and profoundly saddened by the loss of our brother Earl “DMX” Simmons,” Def Jam, his longtime label home, wrote in a statement. “DMX was a brilliant artist and an inspiration to millions around the world. His message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him and were touched by him. DMX was nothing less than a giant. His legend will live on forever.”
Honest and open about his struggles with addiction and personal demons, the New York rapper rose to prominence in the early ’90s as DMX The Great before finally breaking through as simply DMX through a string of guest appearances in 1997 and 1998. His debut album, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, powered by singles such as “Get At Me Dog,” “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” and “How It’s Goin’ Down.” Famously challenged by his label, Def Jam Records, X would drop another album in 1998, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood powered by the personal and emotional single, “Slippin.”
The commercial success for X would continue for the next six years. Follow-up albums, including 1999’s blockbuster release …And Then There Was X, The Great Depression and Grand Champ all debuted at No. 1. The 1999 effort became his highest-selling album, buoyed by massive songs such. as “What’s My Name,” “Party Up,” and “What These B*tches Want.”
Through an honest blend of gospel, graphic and blunt lyricism, discussions about depression, suicide and more, X’s delivery placed him on the same path of a beloved figure as Houston rapper Scarface. At one point, he was the unquestioned face of hip-hop from 1998 well into 1999, respected by many across the globe. His Woodstock performance in 1999 is constantly referenced as him performing for the entire world and the world listening solely to him.
“I’m a King. Regardless of what I’ve been through and what I’ve done, I present myself as a King,” X once said. “And I get that respect from people, from everybody I deal with. I worked my whole life to establish that respect and make sure I get that respect.”
Despite his numerous legal issues and struggles, the Yonkers rapper continued to find success and grace. He would crossover as an action star in the late ’90s in Hype Williams’ flashy crime noir film Belly before later having star turns in Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 The Grave and Never Die Alone.
Recently, X found himself healthy, appearing on Verzuz alongside Snoop Dogg and receiving his flowers with BET’s Ruff Ryder Chronicles docuseries as well as a guest appearance on ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat as a quirky neighbor who offered sage advice regarding love, patience and time.
In recent years, X had been more vulnerable, recalling the tragic moment which led him down a path of addiction through receiving a laced blunt from a “mentor” when he was 14.
“I hit the blunt and … I was no longer focused on the money. I’ve never felt like this, it just f–ked me up,” X said. “I later found out that he laced the blunt with crack. Why would you do that to a child? He knew I looked up to him. Why would you do that to somebody who looks up to you? A monster was born. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy. Especially to someone that you supposedly love.”