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  • Rapper DMX dies at 50

    DMX Dead At 50

    Earl Simmons, the rap legend known to the world as DMX, has died. Last weekend, DMX was rushed to a hospital in White Plains, New York after suffering an overdose and a heart attack. Although he remained on life support last night as rumors of his death spread on social media, his family has now confirmed his death. DMX was 50.

    “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.”

    Earl Simmons grew up in Baltimore and in Yonkers, New York, and he had a rough childhood, suffering from poverty and abuse. He turned to crime as a child and spent time in group homes. During his time in juvenile centers, Simmons discovered a love of rap music, and he beatboxed for local rappers. He took the name DMX, naming himself after a drum machine. He got more serious about rap while serving a late-’80s prison sentence for carjacking, and he started to develop a following in the early ’90s by releasing mixtapes and battling other rappers on the New York circuit. In the early ’90s, DMX was briefly signed to Ruffhouse Records, and he was dropped after releasing one single, 1992’s “Born Loser.” But in the late ’90s, DMX went on a guest-verse spree, doing scene-stealing work on songs from rappers like Mic Geronimo, LL Cool J, Mase, and the Lox.

    Irv Gotti signed DMX to Def Jam in the late ’90s, and he released his landmark debut album It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot in the spring of 1998. The album was an immediate success that debuted at #1. Before the end of the year, DMX released a second album, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood, and that one also debuted at #1. In an age of flashy rap excess, DMX came off as an antidote — a raw, erratic, desperate figure who radiated anger and determination in every bar. DMX came with his own ready-made iconography — the dirt bikes, the pit bulls, the prayers. DMX was an enormously charismatic figure, and his success went beyond his album-sales numbers. People loved him. He represented darkness and struggle at a moment when rap seemed like it was trying to distance itself from those things. His mere presence was revolutionary.

    DMX released a few more successful albums in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and he also became a movie star, starting with his magnetic work in Hype Williams’ 1998 film Belly. From there, DMX moved into action movies, working with martial-arts stars Jet Li and Steven Seagal on Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, and Cradle 2 The Grave. But X also suffered from crack addiction, and he was arrested many times in the ’90s and ’00s. He served a number of prison terms, and he also had to be resuscitated with Narcan after a 2016 overdose. Those issues quickly took a toll on DMX’s career, and he parted ways with Def Jam after releasing 2003’s Grand Champ, his last platinum album. He’s released more music since then, but it hasn’t been anywhere near as successful.

    In 2018, DMX was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion. After his 2019 release, DMX seemed to be in a good headspace. He had a fun Verzuz battle with Snoop Dogg last year. More recently, he returned to Def Jam and got to work on a new album. In an interview on NORE’s Drink Champs podcast in February, DMX said that the album was almost done and that it featured appearances from Bono, Usher, Alicia Keys, and Lil Wayne.

    https://www.stereogum.com/2143049/dmx-dead-at-50/news/
    Sad news. 50 years old is too young.

  • #2
    Wow. Sad to hear this, he was a talented rapper. I remember critics were very interested in him when he first started, though it seems he fell out of favour with them as the years went on.

    Will always love this one

    1 Yung Bae |2 DJ Snake|3 Birdy|4 MK |5 Sofia Carson

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    • #3
      I won't speak ill of the dead but anyone who has been to prison 30 times, fathered 15 children with 7 different women some while being married, uses extreme homophobic slurs in their music among other things is a #joke.

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      • #4
        RIP DMX

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        • #5
          Was never a huge rap fan, but I bought it's dark and hell is hot way back when and loved it. Shame to see him pass so soon, RIP.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ludichris View Post
            I won't speak ill of the dead but anyone who has been to prison 30 times, fathered 15 children with 7 different women some while being married, uses extreme homophobic slurs in their music among other things is a #joke.
            He definitely lived a wild and crazy life. Considering this, it's impressive that he even got to 50.

            RIP! 'X Gonna Give It To Ya' was a cool song back in the day.
            Pro: freedom of speech
            Contra: cancel culture

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            • #7
              Originally posted by theMathematician View Post

              He definitely lived a wild and crazy life. Considering this, it's impressive that he even got to 50.

              RIP! 'X Gonna Give It To Ya' was a cool song back in the day.
              Agreed. Without his career in music to keep him focused I'm sure he would have already died a while ago or spent far longer periods in prison. I didn't want to say anything too disrespectful but he seemed to make a lot of terrible life choices repeatedly, while not learning from past mistakes. Perhaps he needed better people around him.

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              • #8
                RIP DMX
                See The Mariah Carey Discography Rate
                See The Report Card - Weekly Top Songs

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                • #9
                  He had a traumatizing childhood. Abuse. I have an adult cousin who is in the same situation. Mental illness plus access to all kinds of drugs does not heal those traumas. It only adds fuel to them.

                  Heartbreaking.
                  Diva!!!

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                  • #10
                    @ludichris: I mean yeah, you're supposed to say only nice things about the dead, but I get what you mean.
                    Pro: freedom of speech
                    Contra: cancel culture

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                    • #11
                      RIP!

                      You Love The 90's Dance Era?
                      http://www.1.fm/station/partyzone90s

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                      • #12
                        She breaks down his heartbreaking story.
                        Diva!!!

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                        • #13
                          DMX's first 5 albums were big hits, not just in hip-hop but in mainstream music. I grew up in the age where Party Up and X Gon' Give It To You soundtracked house parties and clubs when I was just getting to know what those were.

                          To Gen X and Millennials raised on hip-hop, this is sad news.

                          You look at his Wiki page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMX_(rapper)) and run through the rap sheet. Multiple arrests, multiple chart hits, multiple sentences, multiple accolades, multiple children, multiple substances and to me, it paints the picture of someone incredible tortured who did reckless things to try and escape himself.

                          I don't condone his convictions but I do understand them. It's so easy to judge addicts (especially when you're famous, or wealthy) and wonder why they just didn't stop. The dude's first album was It's Dark And Hell Is Hot. Demons were a common motif in his music. Like his sister said, at least now, in some way, he has some peace.
                          Addict. Advocate. Author. Artist.
                          My journey of R&B, addiction and superheroes....
                          www.rawirijames.com
                          #LostBoy album and novel OUT NOW!

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                          • #14
                            Well he made the Channel Four news which was surprising. Had some good work.
                            Don't bother updating your signature if it's a link. It takes you to completely random pages!!!!

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                            • #15
                              Is it true Beyonce and Jay-Z bought his music so they can gift it to his many children?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                A really nice write-up from Tom Breihan of Stereogum about DMX's life and career

                                DMX Brought The Darkness And The Light

                                I don’t remember where I was the first time I heard the Lox’s “Money, Power & Respect,” but I remember the feeling. The song was good — hard New York shit from the guys on the “Benjamins” remix, all of them rapping just behind the beat and coming up with cool little catchphrases. It had strings and pianos and Lil Kim on the hook. And then it had that ending. A dog barks, and a new voice comes in — hoarse, gruff, shadowy. “This is a beat that I can freak,” he announces, and then he freaks it. That voice growls on a low boil for maybe 20 seconds, and then something changes. The voice gets more angry, more defiant, and it starts talking some wild shit: “This ain’t no ****in’ game! You think I’m playin’? Till you layin’ somewhere in a junkyard decayin’? Moms at home prayin’ that you coming home, but you not! You sittin’ up in a trunk and startin’ to rot! And hell is hot! Because I’m here now, baby! It’s going down, baby! Get the four-pound, baby!” Hearing that made me feel like I had electricity in my blood. I could’ve jumped off a building to that. I could still jump off a building to that.

                                The voice I heard didn’t sound like anything else. The owner of that voice had all the fire-eyed passion of Tupac Shakur, who’d only been in the ground a year and a half at that point. It had the throaty scream-rasp intensity of Sticky Fingaz. It had the guttural, demonic pathos of Prodigy. It had something else, too — a searing magnetism, a rock-star presence. It had charisma and gravity and determination. I wanted to hear more of that voice. I wouldn’t have to wait long.


                                By the time I heard his voice, DMX was 27 years old — a dark man who had lived a dark life. To even recount the circumstances of Earl Simmons’ childhood is to bathe in absurd misery. His real-life trials seem exaggerated, like some Precious Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire shit. The abusive mother who knocked his teeth out with a broom handle and then tricked him into a stay at an institution. The time he got hit and almost killed by a car. The years in and out of group homes and juvenile detention centers. The nights wandering streets, sleeping in Salvation Army donation boxes and befriending stray dogs. The mentor who introduced him to rap and also to crack. If DMX sounded consumed with death, then it’s because he just barely skated by with his life, again and again. To make it to 50 was a triumph.

                                Earl Simmons was a smart kid. He won spelling bees. He loved drawing. When Simmons made music, it was as a beatboxer, not a rapper. (DMX took his name from the Oberheim drum machine that powered the early Run-DMC singles.) As a rapper, though, Simmons found ways to channel things. He rapped in jails. He rapped in crackhouses. He used the torture of solitary confinement to write songs and prayers and songs that worked as prayers. X recorded a demo tape and appeared in The Source‘s Unsigned Hype column in 1991, long before he’d find fame. (X was one of the first rappers ever to appear in that column; he was Unsigned Hype more than a year before Biggie Smalls.) For years, DMX existed around the periphery of the rap industry. In 1993: a single on the Columbia subsidiary Ruffhouse that didn’t go anywhere. In 1995: a spot on Mic Geronimo’s “Time To Build” posse cut alongside fellow future stars Jay-Z and Ja Rule. The whole time, DMX was robbing people, stealing cars, going to jail. The whole time, he was also getting better as a rapper.


                                There’s a famous story about a battle between Jay-Z and DMX in a Bronx pool hall late one night, before either one was famous. No footage of the battle has ever been made public. It’s all myth, and it’s better that way. Dame Dash later said that they battled for hours and that things got tense enough that people pulled out guns. Dash also says that the battle was a tie. X says that he won but that he also learned something from it: “As much energy as I had, I learned that it still had to be controlled.” (For his part, Jay-Z says he figured out how to perform while watching DMX; when the two toured together, Jay was getting blown offstage every night.) Another myth: The night Def Jam exec Lyor Cohen ventured up to Yonkers to hear DMX rap. Irv Gotti, a young Def Jam A&R, had demanded that the label sign X, even threatening to quit if his bosses didn’t give the rapper a shot. When Cohen met X, X’s mouth was wired shut; he’d had his jaw broken in a post-robbery retaliation. Cohen later said that DMX rapped so hard that night that he could hear the wires breaking.

                                DMX showed up at the exact right time, and he almost immediately became a figure of intense fascination and speculation. With his Def Jam contract in place, X went on a historic run of annihilating other rappers on posse cuts. He’d arrived at the peak of the shiny-suit era, the time when the sheer glitz of Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy empire dominated both rap and pop to an extent that we haven’t seen since. DMX could’ve become a Bad Boy artist. Puff passed on signing him, but X still appeared on “Money, Power & Respect” and on Mase’s “24 Hours To Live,” utterly obliterating both tracks. Still, DMX’s mere existence seemed like a rebuke to the slickness of that Bad Boy moment. I remember being baffled that Mase had a guest verse on It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot. I had a simplistic understanding of who Mase was and what he represented, and DMX seemed to be the opposite of that. Five years later, 50 Cent would emerge as a sort of insincere, lab-created fusion of Mase and DMX. The two weren’t the oppositional forces that I believed them to be.


                                I was still in high school when It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot came out, and there’s no way I can properly describe the impact of that album on anyone who wasn’t there. It’s Dark brought a sudden, screeching end to the shiny-suit era. The feeling in the air changed. The music got harder, uglier. There weren’t really any DMX imitators, since nobody could really imitate DMX, though his old buddy Ja Rule definitely adapted some of his strained-roar delivery. But DMX changed the focus. Things got dirtier and grimier and more urgent when he arrived. The Lox, DMX’s old Yonkers friends, started up a campaign to get out of their Bad Boy contracts, and they eventually succeeded in joining X on Ruff Ryders. Ruff Ryders quickly became a juggernaut of its own, with the Lox and Eve and Drag-On and with the clanging adrenaline-needle production of Dame Grease and Swizz Beatz. DMX arrived with a whole style already in place — a look, a feel, and aesthetic. Anyone who’s ever driven down North Avenue recognizes what’s going on in the “Ruff Ryders Anthem” video. It’s Baltimore dirtbike culture, transformed into blockbuster filmmaking.

                                But It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot isn’t just the beginning of a movement. It’s a masterful rap album, one of the most layered and powerful debuts in the genre’s history. DMX might’ve been a bracing presence on those posse cuts, but It’s Dark revealed him to be something more. He was a tormented soul, desperate enough to structure entire songs as conversations with God or Satan. He was a gifted storyteller with a gift for rendering over-the-top violence like he was right there in the middle of it, even when he was imagining himself strapping up with C4 and suicide-bombing an entire police station. He was a craftsman with a sense of how to structure a song, how to half-sing a hook. He was aggressive, but he was also bluesy and gothic and sometimes even tender. In what might’ve been the album’s striking moment, the music dropped out so that DMX could pray. He’d pray onstage every night, too.


                                DMX could be hard and vulnerable. He could be reverent and violent. To him, there was no contradiction in these tendencies. DMX presented himself as someone who had been through some of the darkest things the world could offer, and who was still going through these things. DMX never had that classic rags-to-riches rap thing. He wasn’t Jay-Z, relaxing on a beach somewhere and reminiscing on the wild times that had taken him there. There was no distance. DMX had not come up from struggle. He was the struggle. That’s what he showed the world, and the world responded. It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot sold five million copies. Lyor Cohen offered X a million-dollar bonus if he could deliver another album in time for the end of 1998, and he did. Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood reached stores in December, giving Christmas record-store shoppers the image of a shirtless DMX covered in blood. That album went straight to #1, too. DMX became the first rapper ever to land two #1 albums in the same year, the first to go platinum twice in the same year.

                                He didn’t let up, either. The same year he released his first two albums, DMX starred in Hype Williams’ visually stunning, narratively baffling crime movie Belly. Other than the hypnotic things that Williams did with the camera, DMX was the best thing about Belly. Even though he wasn’t yet a dominant star when he filmed the movie, X played a variation on his own persona, and he held the screen just as compellingly as he did in his videos. Belly led DMX to a lucrative side-hustle starring in a series of baffling, hyperactive marital-arts movies for Polish director Andrzej Bartkowiak, sharing the screen with action stars Jet Li and Steven Seagal. The part of Cradle 2 The Grave where X is on the run from police, and he steals an ATV from some extreme sports guys? And then he rides the ATV up some office-building stairs? And then he jumps from rooftop to rooftop, with the extreme sports guys chasing him? That’s my shit. I love that.


                                DMX also cranked out five Def Jam albums in quick succession, all of them debuting at #1. He toured arenas — with Jay-Z, with the Cash Money Millionaires, with Limp Bizkit and Godsmack. His singles never did big chart numbers — “Party Up,” his biggest hit, only reached #27 — but they were inescapable. It’s easy to imagine him racking up #1 hits in the streaming era. X could make explosive anthems, songs that would make you want to punch your best friend in the face, and then he could make solemn, meditative tracks about struggling through life. Sometimes, he could do both. Even his biggest, most crowd-pleasing anthems were drenched in pathos and anger and darkness: “Home of the brave, my home is a cage/ And yo, I’m a slave till my home is the grave.” Even the for-the-radio R&B songs were about how he wished women would stop expecting things of him.

                                For a five-year run, DMX was one of rap’s most dominant, magnetic stars. Then it fell apart. The albums gradually became less compelling. The rhetoric got nastier; X devoted much of his 2003 single “Where The Hood At?” to splenetic homophobia. The arrests piled up. X claimed he was retiring from rap, then he moved from Def Jam to Columbia and released a flop album, his first. DMX, married for most of that run, fathered 17 kids by nine women. He declared bankruptcy three times. He was in and out of jail for years, and he was struggling with addiction, too. Five years ago, DMX overdosed in a Ramada Inn parking lot and was revived with Narcan. The struggle came to overwhelm the work.


                                Through all that, people rooted for DMX. Every time he’d reappear in public — on Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy reunion tour, for instance, or in the Chris Rock movie Top Five — nobody could look away. If you loved rap music, then you rooted for DMX to pull it together, to return to something resembling his old glory. For a while there, it looked like it was happening. Last year, X took on Snoop Dogg in a Verzuz battle, and it was a total blast to watch these two icons running through their hits, happily praising each other, eating chicken strips and Now & Laters together. DMX signed a new Def Jam deal and got to work on a star-studded album. He apparently finished it, too. I can’t wait to hear it.

                                That ended last week. DMX overdosed again, and he had a heart attack. For days, he hung on, unresponsive in a White Plains hospital. While we waited for news, many of us re-immersed ourselves in DMX’s music and thought about the moment that the man arrived and changed everything. Finally, we lost him. On his debut album 23 years ago, DMX spoke to the universe: “Either let me fly or give me death.” The universe did both.


                                Two months ago, DMX was on NORE’s Drink Champs podcast, and he told a story about when he was a kid, staying with his grandmother. He’d seen a butterfly, and he loved it. He wanted it. He chased this butterfly into a neighbor’s yard, messed up the neighbor’s flowers, and caught the butterfly in a jar: “I was happy because I was able to say I caught it, but then it died… I killed the most prettiest thing I’d ever seen in my life because I wanted to keep it for myself. The beauty? That’s in the world? Appreciate it. That’s it. It’s not yours.” DMX was not ours. For his entire world-altering run, DMX was a haunted man, living on borrowed time. That, at least in part, is what drew so many of us to him. DMX’s death is a real loss, a total gut-punch. But he was strong enough to survive as long as he did, to touch as many people as he could. That’s a victory. That’s a miracle. Appreciate it.

                                https://www.stereogum.com/2144002/dm...tus-aint-hood/

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