Earl Simmons, better known as Dark Man X or simply DMX, was the focus of prayers and even chants in front of a White Plains, N.Y., hospital as friends and fans waited to learn of his fate after he was hospitalized. But the 50-year-old rapper succumbed to a massive heart attack on April 9, marking the passing of a global music icon who reached people of all cultures.
His beginnings were much more humble. In and out of group homes as a child, he often found himself in trouble with the law. Simmons started rapping as a teenager and when The Source magazine declared him one of the best unsigned artists of 1991, his world changed. It wasn’t long after that when he made a splash in the industry rhyming on Mic Geronimo’s 1995 breakout hit “Time To Build,” along with Jay-Z and Ja Rule. Just a few years later, leading the Ruff Ryders label, he released his 1998 multiplatinum debut It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, which included appearances from The LOX, Mase, Lil’ Kim, and LL Cool J.
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Less than a year later, he dropped his second album; that’s lightning speed for most artists. “Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of My Blood” was a huge success, ultimately selling 5 million copies. In late 1999, he released his best-selling album with … And Then There Was X, which featured the hit singles “What’s My Name?” and “Party Up (Up In Here),” which was eventually certified six-times Platinum.
DMX also went on to launch a successful acting career, starring in movies like Belly, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, and Cradle 2 the Grave.
Earl Simmons’s death brought out condolences and reflection from fans around the world, including remembrances on social media from the likes of Halle Berry who tweeted, “Sending Love to his family,” Ice Cube who wrote that he is sending "warrior prayers to the homie DMX." Comedian Loni Love tweeted about the time she randomly ended up on the phone for 30 minutes. “we talked, laughed & prayed a good 30 minutes,” she said. “I wish we had more time.”
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Snoop Dogg, who did a Versuz battle with DMX in July 2020, gave the rapper much praise on NBC’s "Today with Hoda and Jenna". “DMX was wanting to glorify his relationship with God, and he was always pushing the right thing,” Snoop said. “He was always trying to help other people and that leads me to believe that’s why God chose this angel to come back home with him. He did his time out here. He did what he was supposed to do. He influenced, he inspired, and he represented. So, DMX, his soul will live on and his music will live on, as well. We thank you, brother, for what you brought to us.”
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