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DMX (1970–2021), acclaimed rapper and actor

by Linnea Crowther

DMX was an influential acclaimed rapper and actor known for hits including “Party Up (Up in Here).”

Grammy-nominated rapper

DMX, born Earl Simmons, began rapping in the genre’s early days. He beatboxed for another rapper before beginning to write his own lyrics and perform. DMX’s mixtapes helped build his popularity around New York, and he began being featured on other rappers’ releases, including LL Cool J’s 1991 single “4, 3, 2, 1.” His raspy growl of a voice was distinctive and immediately recognizable.

By the late ‘90s, DMX had a recording contract with Def Jam Records, and he released his first solo hit in 1998, “Get at Me Dog.” His debut album, “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot,” entered the Billboard chart at No. 1, and so did his next four albums – he was the only rapper to have his first five albums debut at No. 1. His third album, “…And Then There Was X,” included the 2000 Top-Ten single, “Party Up.” DMX was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2001 for Best Rap Solo Performance (“Party Up”) and Best Rap Album (“…And Then There Was X”). He earned another Grammy nomination the following year for his single “Who We Be,” and he won the American Music Awards’ Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artists award two years in a row, in 2000 and 2001.



DMX’s acting career began in 1998 with a starring role in “Belly” alongside other rappers including Nas and Method Man. In 2000, he had a supporting role in Aaliyah’s (1979–2001) acting debut, “Romeo Must Die.” His other movies include “Exit Wounds” (2001), “Cradle 2 the Grave” (2003), “Never Die Alone” (2004), and “Beyond the Law” (2019). In 2016, DMX starred in the BET reality series “DMX: Soul of a Man.” He made other TV appearances on shows such as “Moesha,” “Third Watch,” and “Eve.”

DMX was arrested a number of times and served several prison and jail sentences. His offenses included reckless driving, resisting arrest, carjacking, drug possession, and animal cruelty. Most recently, in 2017, DMX was convicted of tax fraud.

DMX on his love of performing

“Performing in front of people is beyond a high. It’s beyond a high that any drug could duplicate. Just being onstage, period, and knowing that there’s so much love out there. I pray before I go onstage with everyone in the room. And I end my show with a prayer onstage. And I’d say maybe 65 percent of the time that I get offstage, I’m so emotionally overwhelmed, I just break down.” —from a 2019 interview for GQ

Funeral details

A public memorial service for DMX will take place at Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, April 24. The following day, a private service will be held at a New York City church.

Tributes to DMX

Full Obituary: New York Times

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