Rapper DMX has passed away at 50 years old today. One of the biggest rappers of the late '90s and 2000s, he came onto the scene as a harder more “street” alternative to the “Shiny Suit Era” dominating hip hop at the time. Where Puff Daddy and Jay Z had an entourage and Bentley cars, DMX had his Ruff Ryders gang and his beloved dogs. The antithesis to the then-current rap trends, DMX released two number 1 albums in 1998, then followed up with another number 1 album in 1999. Altogether, his first five albums charted number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first rapper to do so. This was fueled by aggressive anthems like “Ruff Ryders Anthem” and “Stop Being Greedy” but what truly made DMX a groundbreaking artist was his more vulnerable music.
DMX was one of the first rappers to speak on topics like his battles with depression, paranoia, his mental health challenges, and his relationship with God, over a decade before it became popular. According to record producer Irv Gotti, Jay Z said X’s music was “depressing”. Perhaps, but it’s what made him the biggest hip-hop artist in the world for a period of time. He became the voice for the hopeless in an era of music where the main topic of discussion is who has the most money and the most platinum jewelry. Case in point, look at the crowd he demanded for his performance at Woodstock.
When remembering his music, most want to talk about “Ruff Ryders Anthem” but nobody mentions his prayers that ended his albums and also his shows. You still hear “Party Up” in the clubs but most critics and fans fail to mention his gospel music. The record-breaking artist that made his name on violent music called himself the “born loser” in his first single. He bared his soul in his music and was as authentic as you could be. Swizz Beatz called DMX “the east coast Pac” in reference to the late Tupac Shakur.
DMX’s music career slowed down after 2006 as he had a string of legal and personal issues that eventually led to his untimely passing. He became almost forgotten at one point until recently. During the Verzuz: Snoop Dogg vs DMX episode, the internet came out in support of X with many people coming in saying he’s one of their favorite artists. It’s often said that most people don’t get their flowers while they can still smell them but the fans gave X his months before he left.
Rest in Peace DMX.
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