DMX, the gravel-voiced NYC rap icon who produced a string of huge hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s, died Friday following a reported drug overdose on April 2 that left him in a "vegetative state." He was 50.
The death of the "Ruff Ryders Anthem" rapper and father of 15 children, born Earl Simmons, was confirmed by his family.
“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end,” his family said in a statement to People.
“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.”
Page Six revisited the origins of the Yonkers, NY native's early career:
His career famously began when he catapulted to the top of the charts with his 1998 debut album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.”
The album featured a bravado telling of gritty urban tales, rendered in DMX’s distinctive gruff delivery, and it accelerated the mainstream popularity of hardcore New York City-based rap. The debut record went platinum nearly five times over and peaked at No. 1 on the US charts.
DMX’s next two albums, “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood” and “…And Then There Was X” were released within the span of the year on Ruff Ryders/Def Jam records, and sold a combined total of more than 8 million units.
The strength of singles like “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” “What’s My Name” and “What These Bitches Want,” and their accompanying gritty videos, contributed to the rapper’s rapid and influential ascent, securing his place as a pop culture cornerstone.
DMX also starred in the movies Belly and Romeo Must Die, and was nominated for two Grammys and four MTV Video Music awards in the early 2000s. He also famously had a long struggle with drug abuse, including cocaine and oxycodone addictions.
In 2020, DMX gave an emotional interview to rapper Talib Kweli on the “People’s Party” podcast, where he recalled being given crack for the first time at age 14 by his mentor, after the two had committed a robbery in Yonkers.
“I hit the blunt, and … I was no longer focused on the money. I’ve never felt like this, it just fucked me up. I later found out that he laced the blunt with crack. Why would you do that to a child?” Last July, DMX battled Snoop Dogg in Verzuz's rap series.
Revisit some of DMX's greatest hits in the videos below. RIP to a hip-hop legend.