DMX DIES: His Life, Rap, Crime and Spirituality
He died late Friday at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York according to family sources.
The performer, whose real name was Earl Simmons, had been placed on life support and died with his family by his side.
A New York tabloid described him as “Earl Simmons, the snarling yet soulful rapper known as DMX, who had a string of No. 1 albums in the late 1990s and early 2000s but whose personal struggles eventually rivaled his lyrical prowess…”
It also said of the late rapper’s songs that “Mr. Simmons’s music was often menacing and dark, with the occasional nod to Christian spirituality. He committed crimes, served time in different correctional institutions and battled addiction long before he released an album, and his troubled past informed the gritty content and inimitable delivery of his rhymes.”
In a statement, his family said he was “a warrior who fought till the very end”.
They also said “Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever.”
“He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him,” their statement continued.
“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.”
The chart-topping artist’s songs included Party Up (Up in Here) and X Gon’ Give It To Ya.
He also acted on screen, appearing in such films as Cradle 2 the Grave, Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Dec. 18, 1970, Earl Simmons was the first and only child of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker. He grew up in Yonkers, a city just north of the Bronx that became a hotbed of racial tension in the 1980s.
His father was an itinerant artist whom he rarely saw, and his mother struggled to raise him and his half sister Bonita in a violent neighborhood. In his memoir, “E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX” (2002, with Smokey D. Fontaine), he wrote that there was often little food at home while he was growing up and that as a precocious, hot-tempered and disobedient child, he was often beaten by his mother and her lovers. (Information on his survivors was not immediately available.)
Mr. Simmons turned to street crime as he grew older, spending much of his childhood and teenage years in group homes or juvenile detention facilities, where, he wrote, he sometimes faced solitary confinement. He became an adept car thief and robber, he said, often using vicious dogs to intimidate victims.
“I was straight stickup,” Mr. Simmons wrote. “I’d rob three times a day: before school, after school and on the late night.”
In the late 1980s he started performing as a beatboxer, creating beats using only his mouth, with a local rapper named Ready Ron. (He took the name DMX from the Oberheim DMX drum machine, a model popular in the 1980s.) He said he was 14 when Ready Ron introduced him to crack cocaine by passing him what Mr. Simmons thought was marijuana.
“I later found out that he laced the blunt with crack,” Mr. Simmons told the rapper Talib Kweli in an interview last year. “Why would you do that to a child?” He became addicted to it.
A father of 15, he served jail sentences on charges including animal cruelty, reckless driving, drug possession and weapons possession.
His manager Steve Rifkind also paid his respects, writing on Instagram: “The team is going to finish what we started and your legacy will never go away.
“That’s my word. Rest Easy X”.
Tributes were paid throughout Friday, with a host of stars expressing their admiration for the musician and offering sympathies to his family.
“His gift meant so much to so many,” tweeted actress Halle Berry.
Rappers Ice Cube, Soulja Boy and Chance the Rapper also tweeted their condolences.