Grammy-nominated rapper and actor DMX, real name Earl Simmons, died on Friday following a days-long stint in hospital. He was 50 years old.
His family confirmed the news in a statement, which was posted to social media. Celebrity publication People also confirmed the news.
“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,” wrote the family.
“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.”
White Plains Hospital also released a brief statement, saying: “White Plains Hospital extends its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Simmons, as well as his friends and legions of fans who expressed their unwavering support during this difficult time. Earl Simmons passed away peacefully with family present after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest.”
DMX was rushed to hospital in grave condition last Friday after suffering a heart attack at his home.
Simmons’ longtime lawyer, Murray Richman, said Sunday that the rapper was admitted to the intensive care unit but he was not sure what caused the heart attack. Celebrity gossip site TMZ reported that DMX suffered the heart attack as a result of a drug overdose, but the rapper’s representative and other media outlets could not confirm the report.
The musician had been open about his struggles with illegal drug use and had spoken about entering rehab in 2019 after serving time in federal prison on a tax fraud conviction. A Manhattan federal court found that he failed to pay $1.7 million in taxes from 2000 to 2005, by shifting money among accounts belonging to managers and associates.
DMX was one of the most successful and acclaimed rappers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, producing several hit songs including Ruff Ryders’ Anthem, X Gonna Give it to Ya, Party Up (Up In Here), How’s It Goin’ Down and What’s My Name? He made a splash in rap music in 1998 with his first studio album, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
He was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album for 1999’s …And Then There Was X. His first five albums each debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. He released seven albums in total and was named favourite rap/hip-hop artist at the 2000 American Music Awards.
DMX arrived on the rap scene around the same time as Jay-Z, Ja Rule and others who dominated the charts and emerged as platinum-selling acts. They were all part of rap crews, too: DMX fronted the Ruff Ryders collective, which helped launch the careers of Grammy winners Eve and Swizz Beatz, and relaunch The Lox, formerly signed to Bad Boy Records. Ruff Ryders had success on the charts and on radio with its Ryde or Die compilation albums.
The rapper would later open Aaliyah’s tribute music video, Miss You, alongside her other friends and collaborators, including Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah, after Aaliyah’s 2001 death in a plane crash at age 22.
He also starred as an actor in the movies Belly with fellow rappers Nas and Method Man, Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave with Jet Li, and Exit Wounds with Steven Seagal.
But while DMX made his mark as one of hip-hop’s most recognizable names for his rap artistry and as an actor, the rapper was personally stifled by his legal battles — he was repeatedly arrested and jailed within a decade — and drug addiction. His addiction first took hold at age 14 when smoked a marijuana cigarette that was laced with cocaine.
DMX pleaded guilty in 2004 after he posed as an undercover federal agent and crashed his SUV through a security gate at New York’s Kennedy Airport. He was arrested in 2008 on drug and animal cruelty charges following an overnight raid on his house in Phoenix. He tried to barricade himself in his bedroom but emerged when a SWAT team entered his home.
In 2010, he was sentenced to a year in prison for violating terms of his probation. After he was admitted to rehab numerous times over the next year, he said he had finally beat his drug addiction.
First responders helped bring DMX back to life after he was found in a hotel parking lot in New York in 2016. The rapper said he suffered from asthma.
DMX also took the initiative to help the less fortunate. He gave a group of Philadelphia men advice during a surprise appearance at a homeless support group meeting in 2017, and helped a Maine family with its back-to-school purchases a couple years later.
Last year, DMX faced off against Snoop Dogg in a Verzuz battle, which drew more than 500,000 viewers.
Survivors include his 15 children and his mother.
— With files from Global News’ Chris Jancelewicz, The Associated Press and Reuters