On April 9th, after a lengthy battle, rapper DMX passed away following a heart attack. He was 50 years old. The iconic rapper, who was known for his distinctive, gruff delivery, became the first artist in any genre to debut with five consecutive No. 1 albums. Along with his musical career, he became a successful actor, appearing in films such as Belly, Romeo Must Die, and Cradle 2 The Grave.
Shortly following the deaths of 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, debuted with his first major-label single, “Get At Me Dog,” which created a significant buzz. The single appeared on his debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which released in 1998. He began to be viewed by fans as the heir to 2Pac due to the unbridled intensity and passion in his music. Less than a year later, he released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. His next album, …And Then There Was X, which released a year later, became his most popular album and cemented his status as the hottest rapper in the game. His following music releases were much more sporadic due to his impending legal issues, but they were still very successful.
While DMX made his presence felt in the music world, he was constantly suppressed due to his legal battles. He was first arrested at seven years old for shoplifting. This would be the first of many cases, as he went to jail around 30 times in the entirety of his life. Because of his poor upbringing, he was driven to rob and steal in order to survive. He eventually began living on the streets of Yonkers, New York, in order to escape being beaten by his mother. During this time, he slept in Salvation Army clothing bins and befriended stray dogs while robbing as many as three people per day. At the young age of 14 years old, he was tricked into smoking a blunt laced with crack cocaine by one of his closest friends. Throughout the rest of his life, he battled drug addiction.
Despite his situation, DMX was able to channel his feelings of suffering and desperation into his music, which is why many felt such a deep connection to his message of triumph over darkness. While his music may seem brash and hard-line on the surface, deep cuts like “Look Thru My Eyes” and “The Rain” show how thoughtful and introspective he truly was. Perhaps no track illustrates this better than “Slippin’,” the first single from Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. On “Slippin’,” DMX strives to motivate himself to make positive changes in his life despite seeming to hit rock bottom over and over again. The uplifting anthem has remained one of his most popular songs to this day.
Despite his passing, DMX’s presence will continue to be felt through his heartfelt message. In a recent interview, he makes an eerie reference to death, stating, “If I was to drop dead right now, my last thought would be: ‘I’ve lived a good life.’”
Media by Cole Simpson.