Beloved Rapper, Songwriter and Actor DMX Dead at 50

DMX performs onstage during the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour on October 4, 2016.
DMX performs onstage during the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour on October 4, 2016.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Live Nation (Getty Images)

DMX, beloved rapper, songwriter, and actor has died at the age of 50. The entertainer was admitted to the hospital on April 2, and had been in a coma on life support following a heart attack caused by a reported drug overdose. After a series of brain function tests were conducted and showed no improvement in brain activity, on Friday morning, DMX’s family released an official statement, which was obtained by The Root:

“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.”

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Born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on December 18, 1970, and raised in nearby Yonkers. He was a devout Christian and has stated in a previous interview that he read the Bible every day.

“White Plains Hospital extends its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Simmons, as well as his friends and legions of fans who expressed their unwavering support during this difficult time. Earl Simmons passed away peacefully with family present after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest,” White Plains Hospital said in an official statement.

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DMX released his first major-label album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot in 1998 and it included the now-iconic hit “Ruff Ryders Anthem.” The New York Times chronicled the highlights of his decades-long music career:

Mr. Simmons sold millions of records and was the first musician whose first four albums debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. He became known for electrifying audiences at concerts with hits that include “Party Up,” from 1999, and “X Gon’ Give It to Ya,” from 2003.

“Performing in front of people is beyond a high,” DMX said in a revealing 2019 interview with GQ. “It’s beyond a high that any drug could duplicate. Just being onstage, period, and knowing that there’s so much love out there. I pray before I go onstage with everyone in the room. And I end my show with a prayer onstage. And I’d say maybe 65 percent of the time that I get offstage, I’m so emotionally overwhelmed, I just break down. Sometimes it’s leaving the stage, it’s just like, ‘Get me to my dressing room. I don’t want people to see me like this.’ I just take a minute for myself and just, I thank Him, I praise Him. And I’m like, ‘Thank you, thank you.’ I’m like, ‘Who am I to deserve this?’ We all bleed the same blood.”

DMX was also an actor with extensive film and television credits including Belly, Romeo Must Die, Top Five, Chappelle’s Show, The Chris Rock Show and Iyanla: Fix My Life. Don’t Try to Understand: A Year in the Life of Earl “DMX” Simmons, a much-anticipated intimate glimpse into the rapper’s life, career and struggles with addiction made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2020.

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DMX battled drug addiction over the course of his life. In an incredibly tragic story told in a November 2020 interview with Talib Kweli, DMX recalled that the very first time he tried crack cocaine was in the mid-1980s. He was just starting out in the music industry and met rapper Ready Ron, who would then become his mentor.

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“I didn’t smoke cigarettes, I didn’t smoke weed, I didn’t do anything, 14 years old,” DMX said.

On one particular day, Ready Ron passed him a blunt that was allegedly laced with crack, without DMX’s prior knowledge.

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“Why would you do that to a child? He knew how I looked up to him. Why would you do that to somebody who looks up to you?” DMX added.

In October 2019, DMX voluntarily checked himself into a rehab facility for substance abuse and canceled his upcoming shows to focus on his ongoing road to sobriety. Things seemed to be going well for the rapper, as DMX recently performed in a good-natured battle with Snoop Dogg on Verzuz in July 2020.

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However, things seemed to take a turn for the worse when DMX was admitted to White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY. He remained in a coma on life support for several days, while his family and the rest of the community held a prayer vigil to honor him.

DMX’s public persona was an assortment of adjectives—eccentric, jovial, energetic, endearing—and his fans and peers loved him for every single one of them.

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In an especially endearing Twitter thread, one woman named Jennifer Fraser recalled the time she met DMX on a flight to San Diego and had an extended and unforgettable conversation with him.

One of the best representations of DMX’s impact on the world was his Woodstock ‘99 performance when he gave an electric performance of “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem” in front of an enormous crowd of fans.

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Plus, Christmas will never be the same became of DMX and his unmatched rendition of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

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DMX, who was married to Tashera Simmons for eleven years until 2014, is survived by his fifteen children.

Rest in power, DMX.

Updated: Friday, April 9 at 12:48 p.m., ET: Def Jam, the record label that released DMX’s debut single “Get at Me Dog” in 1998 and one he had remained with for years until his 2003 album Grand Champ (and then reunited by re-signing in 2019) has released the following official statement, obtained by The Root:

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. 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.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

feministonfire
FeministOnFire

1998-1999: A new work colleague & I were driving somewhere in ATL with her four kids (6yo B, 5yo B, 4yo twin girls) on a sunny Saturday in her fresh, tricked out Durango. The kids were relatively quiet and we were chatting getting to know each other. Suddenly the 2nd and 3rd row got HYPED with four sets of arms and legs pumping and screaming at the top of their lungs,”Stop! Drop! Shut ‘em down Open Up Shop!” They were so ferocious and loud, it almost gave me a heart attack - they LOVED that song and knew every word and growl!

I remember those sweet, straight up gangster suburban babies whenever I think about DMX! May he rest in peace.