April 9, 2021 | 12:14pm ET
Legendary New York rapper DMX has died following a drug overdose that led to a fatal heart attack. He was 50 years old.
According to a statement released by the rapper’s family, DMX passed away Friday, April 9th. “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,” the rapper’s family said.
“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.”
On the morning of Saturday, April 3rd, TMZ reported that the artist born Earl Simmons was rushed to the hospital the night before after suffering a drug overdose. He had already experienced significant “lung and brain failure” by the time he was put on life support, and he remained in a vegetative state through the duration of his hospitalization.
Simmons was born in Mount Vernon, New York in 1970 and was subsequently raised in Yonkers. As a child, he suffered from debilitating asthma attacks and was also violently abused by his mother and her boyfriends, leading to lost teeth and severe facial damage. As a teenager, he avoided his mother’s violent behavior by roaming the streets of NY at night and befriending roving stray dogs, sewing the seeds for the canine-like persona he would later adapt as a musician.
He began rapping in the early ’80s and built a local name for himself throughout the decade, leading to a contract with Columbia records in 1992 that linked him up with fellow upstarts like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, The Lox, and LL Cool J. In the mid-’90s, he even briefly formed a group with Jay-Z and Ja Rule called Murder Inc., which quickly disbanded due to internal beef between DMX and Jay-Z.
At the end of the ’90s, DMX entered what would become his commercial peak, putting him on-track to become one of the biggest hip-hop artists of all time. After releasing his Gold-certified major label single “Get at Me Dog” in early 1998 via Def Jam, he dropped his debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot later that year, which spawned one of his most iconic songs, “Ruff Ryders Anthem”. The record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and since sold over five million units.
Later that year, DMX unleashed his second album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, which also debuted at No. 1 and has since been certified four-times platinum. He kept that momentum going by releasing his third album … And Then There Was X in 1999, which featured the runaway hit “Party Up” and the celebrated singles “What’s My Name?” and “What These Bitches Want”. It was certified platinum six times and remains his most notable release to this day.
Although he put out five albums in the 15 years that followed, including two that went to No. 1 (2001’s The Great Depression and 2003’s The Grand Champ, which included the popular song “Where The Hood At?”), DMX’s constant legal issues and personal struggles with addiction interfered heavily with his musical career.
For years, he was open about his problems with drug abuse (he began using crack cocaine at 14 years old), depression, and bi-polar disorder, and throughout the last 20 years he was arrested over a dozen times for numerous charges including drug possession, robbery, and animal cruelty. He served multiple prison sentences throughout his life, beginning in the 1980s and as recently as 2018, and also spent time in rehab.
Sadly, DMX was never able to reboot his artistic spark in the 2010s, but if there was ever any question of just how big of a force he was in his prime, his iconic performance Woodstock 1999 will crush those doubts. The footage shows him performing to an endless sea of giddy fans while emanating electric energy in bright-red overalls. It’s arguably one of the most incredible hip-hop performances to ever be captured on video.
Outside of music, DMX fathered 15 children with multiple different women. He was married to his ex-wife Tashera Simmons for eleven years before they ultimately separated in 2010. He was also a devout Christian, having found God during one of his prison sentences and continuing to read the bible every day throughout his life.