Yesterday, 9th April was a dark day in the world of rap as news of American rapper DMX’s passing filtered in. News of the crispy voiced rapper’s death was announced yesterday evening in an emotional press release by his family.
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.Family statement
The streeet-made superstar was hospitalised on April 2 after he suffered a heart attack at his home in New York. The family were nostalgic for the moments they spent with him as they described him as a warrior that fought till the very end.
Who Was DMX?
Born on December 18 1970 to teenage parents Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker, Earl’s wasn’t a routine childhood as his 18-year old father cut off contact with the family as soon as Earl was born. Barker didn’t want Simmons who had given birth to a daughter, Bonita two years earlier to keep custody of the newly born baby.
The rapper was raised as a Jehovah Witness but an incident, when he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street tested his faith at an early age. This is as his mother rejected a possible settlement from the insurance company representing the driver. He claimed his family could have received a cushion of $10,000 from the legal settlement but that his mother refused to open a case as she claimed the faith taught them to be self-sufficient.
The ‘Party Up’ hitmaker spent his childhood in numerous children’s home in and around New York before he finally started wandering on the streets at 14. The teenager was trying to escape abuse from his mother and her boyfriends that had once ended in him losing a few teeth. Its at this age that he started befriending stray dogs an act which would later catch up with him as he was once sentenced for stealing a dog.
However, it’s the time he spent in the homes that revealed his talent as he bonded with other New Yorkers. His fellow students encouraged him to pursue music and this is how he met Ready Ron, a local rapper, who, impressed with Simmons’ beatboxing skills, asked him to become his partner. This was the beginning of his rise to stardom as he chose the name “DMX”. The name came from an instrument he had used at the boys’ home, the Oberheim DMX drum machine. Some fans also interpreted as “Dark Man X” or “Dog Man X” due to his love for dogs.
This gig of beatboxing for Ready Ron in 1984 kick-started the first decade DMX’s career which was filled with various prison sentences for several petty crimes. It, however is inspirational how he managed to juggle music and jail at the same time. When DMX was released the summer of 1989, he began producing and selling his own mixtapes where he rapped over instrumentals from other songs and sell them on street corners, which helped him build a local fan base all over New York.
DMX’s career got its biggest leap in 1991 when The Source Magazine praised the budding gangster in its Unsigned Hype column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. A year later, Columbia Records signed DMX to their subsidiary label Ruffhouse, which released his debut single “Born Loser”. The youngster rubbed shoulders with then superstars Jay-Z, Ja Rule as they made a guest appearances on the classic underground track Time to Build on Mic Geronimo’s debut album in 1995.
DMX recorded tracks from September 1996 to January 1998, for his debut album, Its Dark and Hell Is Hot, which debuted number one on Billboard’s top 200 in the U.S. This album sold over five million copies and as they say, the rest is history. DMX became a household rap name as he tried to fill the vacuum left by the gruesome murders of rap icons Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. In December of 1998 he released his second album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood which did not disappoint as it also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went multi-platinum.
The crispy-voiced rapper wasn’t done yet as he released his third and best-selling album And Then There Was X at the close of the 20th Century. It’s most popular single, Party Up (Up in Here) became his first Top ten Hit on the R&B charts. The album was certified six-times Platinum and earned him a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
DMX kept the energy in the 21st century as he released his fourth album The Great Depression in March 2001. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and earned triple platinum certification. DMX became the only musical artist in history to release five consecutive albums that debuted at number one as he released his fifth album, Grand Champ. He then assured fans that this was his last album as he was set for retire but it wasn’t over yet for this New Yorker.
He went on to release three more albums with his last being Redemption Of the Beast. This was released controversially as the rapper said Seven Arts Entertainment had no right to release the album. He also filed for bankruptcy thrice with his first filing on July 30, 2013, citing his child support obligations as a priority claim.
The “Let Me Fly” hitmaker served jail sentences in 2008 and 2010 with the latest being in 2018. This is after he was sentenced to jail for owing $1.7m (£1.2m) in unpaid taxes and penalties.
In all, Earl Simmons lived his life to the fullest and achieved a lot. He was an inspiration to lots of disadvantaged kids around the world and his impact was felt everywhere.
He is survived by his fiancee, Desiree Landstrom, mother and 15 children.
May his soul rest in peace.