The hip hop world lost Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, on Friday (April 9). but he will go down as one of the greatest MCs of all time. With his raspy, growling voice, hardcore lyricism, brutal honesty, and deep spirituality, DMX separated himself from the pack as one of the top dogs in the game from the late 90s to the early 2000s.
He shocked the game up by dropping two number-one albums on the Billboard 200 in the same year, 1998’s It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, both going multi-platinum. He would go on to drop several more platinum albums and starred in several films as an action star. At the peak of his powers, DMX was arguably the biggest star in hip hop.
Support from all across the hip hop and entertainment landscapes poured in to show the world just how much DMX is revered as an icon. Through his struggles, he captivated fans in profound ways that’s left an indelible impression on the culture.
The legendary MC has a long list of hits to back his legacy, here are seven of his best.
“Get At Me Dog” featuring Sheek Louch
Without question, the quintessential DMX song is “Get At Me Dog.” A collaboration with Harlem-bred rap empresario Dame Grease, Accompanied with gritty, black-and-white scenery and taped at the Tunnel in New York during the height of the venue’s popularity, “Get At Me Dog” signaled a seismic shift in hip hop. DMX had arrived and he came to take the game over. In an era dominated by commercialized rap, DMX proved that hardcore lyrics and beats still mattered with one of the best debut singles in hip hop history.
Reflecting on the hard times he experienced in his past, DMX got introspective on “Slippin.” Rhyming over a melancholy sample from Grover Washington Jr.'s “Moonstreams,” X addresses his additional issues, mental health, trauma, and everything he had to overcome to reach the pinnacle as a superstar in hip hop. The song resonates with anyone who had to go through difficulties and lived to tell about it.
“Ruff Ryders Anthem”
As the Ruff Ryders became one of the hottest imprints in hip hop, X gave the world “Ruff Ryders Anthem” as the soundtrack to their movement. On the first single that Swizz Beatz produced, X unveiled a classic for his Ruff Ryders’ camp, for lovers of motorcycle riding, and everyone in between.
“How It’s Going Down” featuring Faith Evans
Even rough and rugged DMX could pen a song about the ladies. On “How It’s Going Down,” featuring R&B chart topper Faith Evans on the chorus, X explored all the dynamics of being in a complicated love affair. At the end of the, even dogs need love too. In a video that gives summertime vibes, MCs Ja Rule and Eve make appearances as X tells a story of love that was lost.
“DMX (What’s My Name)”
Just in case you needed a reminder of who he was, Yonkers top dog set the streets on fire with “DMX (What’s My Name).” From his third album…. And Then There Was X, .. Produced by Self with co-production by Irv Gotti, “DMX (What’s My Name)” was the perfect reintroduction to the masses that he still was the hardest MC in the game and willing to take on all comers.
“Stop Being Greedy”
Also produced by Dame Grease, “Stop Being Greedy” revealed the two personalties of Dark Man X. In an interview for the single with Irv Gotti, X said, “When the beat change, the personality change.” On the track, DMX gives us some of the best and menacing storytelling ever heard on the mic.
“Party Up (Up In Here)”
On his biggest solo hit to date, DMX took it from the streets of the clubs with Swizz Beatz- produced scorcher, “Party Up (Up In Here),” from his third album And Then There Was X (2000). X had everybody “losing their minds” all “up in here.” The club-banger reached all the way to the top 40 on the Billboard 100, peaking at number 27.