Earl Simmons, the legendary rapper known to the world as DMX, has died. The rapper was rushed to a hospital in White Plains, New York on April 2 after suffering an apparent drug overdose that led to a heart attack. He was 50 years old.
“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,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, DMX was raised in Yonkers. He experienced a tumultuous childhood beset by poverty and abuse, spending time in and out of group homes, and eventually, juvenile institutions. It was during his time in juvenile centers that he discovered a love of rap music, adopting the DMX moniker as a reference to the Oberheim DMX drum machine. After serving a prison sentence for carjacking in the late 1980s, he started releasing mixtapes and battling other rappers on the New York circuit.
DMX struggled at first to find success; in the early ’90s, he was briefly signed to Columbia subsidiary Ruffhouse Records, but was dropped after releasing a pair of singles. After years of guest verses on songs from artists such as LL Cool J, Mase, Mic Geronimo, LL Cool J, Mase, and the Lox, he signed to Def Jam and released his debut album It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot in the spring of 1998. His following four albums, including 1998’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and 1999’s … And Then There Was X, all debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Though his output slowed in the mid-2000s, DMX also became a movie star, appearing in films including Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 the Grave, and more. He released his last album, Undisputed, in 2012, while his most recent single, the Swizz Beats-produced ‘Bain Iz Back’, came out in 2017.
Throughout his career, DMX was open about his struggles with addiction as well as his legal issues. In October 2019, he checked into a drug habilitation center after serving a year-long jail sentence for tax fraud and evasion. Last year, he had a Verzuz battle against Snoop Dogg, and a few months ago, it was reported that he had been working on a new album that would feature Bono, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, and Usher.
Find some of DMX’s work below.