Photo: Flickr/CreativeCommons/Wassawwbee
Photo: Flickr/CreativeCommons/Wassawwbee

The world is mourning the loss of platinum-selling rapper Earl “DMX” Simmons, who passed away today at age 50. The Baltimore, MD born and Yonkers, NY raised Simmons was best known for his work as a rapper, although he had successful acting career, particularly in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In May 1998, the gravely-voiced rapper burst onto the scene with his debut album It’s Dark and Hell is Hot on the Ruff Ryders label at Def Jam. The Ruff Ryders was also a rap collective featuring rap superstars Eve and Swizz Beatz and Jadakiss, Styles P and Drag-On among others.  It’s Dark featured the single, “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” which was a monster hit, fueling his first major label release to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. The LP also sold 250,000 copies its first week and would go on to be certified four-times platinum (RIAA), confirming the rapper known for his signature “bark” as a bona fide rap star .

Commonly referred to as a hardcore rapper, DMX’s next LP Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, was released in December of that same year. Flesh of My Flesh debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 again and was certified four-times platinum (RIAA) again. The album also featured the hit song “Slipping” which chronicled the rapper’s struggle with addiction, success, failure and relationships. The rhythmic tune featured the sample, “Moonstreams” by jazz legend Grover Washington, Jr. and background vocals by “American Idol” favorite Tamyra Gray. The three-time Grammy nominee received two American Music Awards for favorite rap/hip-hop artist in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

While DMX was working on his next album, he was also building a career as an actor, starring in film hits like Belly (1998), Romeo Must Die (2000), Backstage(2000), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) and Never Die Alone (2004). In 1998, DMX starred opposite rap legend Nas in the cult classic Belly, directed by legendary Hip-Hop music video director Hype Williams. The soundtrack for the film was produced by a “who’s who” of Hip-Hop producers including Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Swizz Beats, Poke and Tone, RZA and R Kelly. The Belly Soundtrack was a commercial success, reaching number 2 on the Billboard 200 and featuring the song “Grand Finale” which featured rappers DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man and Nas.

DMX appeared in Romeo Must Die with R&B singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001. The rapper and singer made the song, “Back in One Piece,” for the Romeo Must Die soundtrack, which debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 3 and was certified platinum. The soundtrack also featured a “Who’s Who” of rap and R&B producers including Irv Gotti, Timbaland, Mannie Fresh, Stanley Clarke,Joe and Barry Hankerson.

On December. 21,  1999, DMX released his third and best-selling album …And Then There Was X, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and featured the hit singles, “Party Up,” which also became his first top ten hit on the R&B charts.

Over the course of his career, DMX struggled with drug addiction and was in and out of jail for drug-related offenses. In 2003, DMX released E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX

In 2007, the MTV music video. Award winner  starred in and executive produced a reality television show entitled DMX: Soul of a Man, which aired on BET. The show featured he and his then-wife Tashera Simmons, with whom he shares four children. The title song, “Lord Give Me a Sign,” was featured on his 2006 album Year of the Dog…Again. In 2012, the couple divorced after multiple separations and reports of DMX fathering multiple children outside of the marriage.

A prolific rapper and actor, DMX has appeared in over30 films and television shows including “South Park” (1998), “The Chris Rock Show” (1998), “Moesha” (2000), “Eve” (2003), “Chappelle’s Show”(2004) and “Fresh Off The Boat” (2015). DMX also appeared on reality television shows “Couples Therapy” (2012), “Iyanla Fix My Life” (2013)  and “Black Ink Crew” (2017). released eight studio albums,five compilation albums, one mixtape, one. EP, forty-six singles (including seventeen as a featured artist) and twenty-four music videos.

In 2016, DMX was found unresponsive in a car in a Ramada Inn parking lot and was resuscitated. He attributed the incident to an asthma attack from which he suffered since childhood.

In June 2020, DMX appeared on Versuz with Snoop Dog and only performed his solo hits.

On April 2, 2021 DMX suffered a heart attack following a drug overdose at his home. He was rushed to a hospital in White Plains, where he was placed on a respirator and had little brain activity. Hundreds of fans and staffers prayed for the rapper’s recovery during a vigil held outside of the hospital Monday, April 5. They chanted “DMX” and made the “X” sign with their arms in support of the rapper. The rapper, who openly discussed his personal demons and love of God as a Christian, passed away Wednesday, April 9, 2021. He was 50.

Earl “DMX” Simmons is survived by his mother Arnett Simmons, fiancée Desiree Lindstrom and children. Rest in peace.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire

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