Rapper DMX, whose given name is Earl Simmons, died a week after suffering a heart attack that sent him into a vegetative state. The 50-year-old rapper had a cardiac arrest in his home in White Plains, N.Y. on April 2. He was rushed to the hospital, and while he lay unconscious his family, friends and hundreds of fans joined one another in front of White Plains Hospital on April 5 to pray and wish the rapper recovery and good health. On April 9, 2021, Earl “DMX” Simmons passed away.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Simmons quickly rose to stardom releasing a string of No. 1 albums. His music was unique and powerful. He was a storyteller, able to express the raw emotion of aggression and violence, but also had a romantic side where he rapped about love, relationships and loyalty.
DMX had a raspy, gravelly voice and often barked over beats to his classic hip hop tracks such as his debut single, “Get at Me Dog,” from his 1998 album, “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot.” He had a cadence that sounded like no one before him, speeding up certain rap bars then slowing down on others, giving his voice a dark melodic element that allowed him to lyrically thrive on many different musical tempos and to express different emotions with flair. He could make his listeners and fans dance in the club with songs such as “Party Up (Up in Here),” and tell dark mythological stories such as “Damien” where he raps a story of making a deal with an evil demon.
DMX’s music was complex. He had a raw, angry, hyper-masculine musical persona, but he also did not steer away from writing about love in songs like “How’s It Goin’ Down” where he takes the listener on a journey through a relationship where he finds himself feeling competitive with the father of his love-interest’s child. Nonetheless, there was also subject matter that he rapped about that was disturbing. (In the same song, he slaps his girlfriend for saying her ex’s name while he was making love to her.)
Along with the controversy, Simmons found immense fame, becoming the first artist to ever have five consecutive No. 1 albums on the Billboard charts. He was also nominated for three Grammys and filled concert halls to the brim. He starred in the 1998 crime drama, “Belly,” co-starring alongside Method Man and Nas. In 2000, he acted in “Romeo Must Die” with singer Aaliyah and Jet Li, and in “Exit Wounds” with Steven Seagal.
In his personal life, many have described DMX as a troubled man who continuously battled with drug addiction and spent time in jail in 2008 for drug possession, death and animal cruelty. The rapper also spent a year in jail in 2018 for tax evasion.
DMX had experienced very high highs and very low lows as he balanced stardom with family life and his own demons. He has fathered 15 children, the youngest of whom was born in 2016 with his fiancee Desiree Lindstrom, who was engaged to be married to him until his untimely death. Earl Simmons is the only child of his single mother, Arnett Simmons and artist, Joe Barker, whom he rarely saw. The rapper grew up in poverty. Before becoming a successful rapper, he struggled and got into crime and drugs as a teenager, robbing cars and victims as often as he could. He chronicled the pain of his childhood and adult life in his 2001 album “The Great Depression,” giving insight into the depth of his pain. DMX grew to be a poet and told his story with grace, bravery and his signature dog barks. He will never be replicated and is responsible for bringing heaviness and emotional depth to every album he offered to the world.