Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end - family

Rapper-actor DMX dies at 50

Published:Friday | April 9, 2021 | 1:14 PM
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, performs following the announcement of his record label change to Sony Music in New York on January 13, 2006. The rapper died on Friday at the age of 50 after a career in which he delivered iconic hip-hop songs such as 'Ruff Ryders’ Anthem'.
Rap artiste DMX appears at a news conference in New York to announce a 40 city hip hop tour, on Tuesday, January 26, 1999.
'Fling at Sting' was THE STAR headline for December 28, 2000, following DMX's Sting performance.
DMX (centre), accepts the R&B Album Artiste of the Year award during the 1999 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, on December 8, 1999.
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NEW YORK (AP):

DMX built a multiplatinum career as one of rap's stars in the 1990s and early 2000s. 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. The multiplatinum-selling album was anchored by several hits, including Ruff Ryders ' Anthem, Get At Me Dog, Stop Being Greedy and How It's Goin ' Down.

DMX followed up with four consecutive chart-topping albums, including ...And Then There Was X, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, The Great Depression and Grand Champ. He released seven albums, earned three Grammy nominations and was named Favourite Rap/Hip Hop Artiste at the 2000 American Music Awards.

The raspy-voiced hip hop artiste, who rapped with a trademark delivery that was often paired with growls, barks and "What!" as an ad-lib, died on Friday, according to a statement from his family. He was 50.

DMX died after suffering "catastrophic cardiac arrest," according to a statement from the hospital in White Plains, New York, where he died. He was rushed there from his home April 2.

His family's statement said the Grammy-nominated performer, whose birth name was Earl Simmons, died with relatives by his side after several days on life support.

"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," the family said, adding that his music "inspired countless fans across the world, and his iconic legacy will live on forever".

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 radio with its Ryde or Die compilation albums.

STING PERFORMANCE

In today's Gleaner Heavy D and writer and music industry expert, Dave Rodney, remembered DMX's iconic performance in 2000 at the 'greatest one-night dancehall show on earth' — Sting.

The rapper had such a great time that he stayed longer than his scheduled three days.

"DMX gave a great performance. In fact, I would say that of all the overseas acts that Sting brought through the years, DMX was the best. He rocked the crowd, and it was a very big crowd too," Heavy D, one of the key persons in Supreme Promotions back then, told The Gleaner.

"He was excited about Jamaica in general; the food, the people, the vibe. I don't remember exactly how long he was in Jamaica for, but he didn't leave right after the show," he said.

Rodney, who worked with Angelo Ellerbee's Double XXposure Media Relations at that time, said DMX wanted to visit because he had heard about both Jamaica and Sting, and once he came to Jamaica, he just stayed. And, while that action threw his and others' schedules helter-skelter, there was a certain Fifth Ave designer who, Rodney said, "was about to have kittens" when the rapper didn't return home to the US as planned.

"It is the norm for designers to lend A-list entertainers jewellery to wear on stage, and when DMX decided to stay in Jamaica, he had in his possession nearly a half a million dollars worth of jewellery from a Fifth Avenue designer. He was to go for two or three days but, instead, stayed up in some hills for two weeks. She is a Far East designer and didn't really understand black culture then. But all's well that ends well, and everything was returned when he got back to the US," Rodney related, now being able to laugh at the memory.

Along with his musical career, DMX paved his way as an actor. He starred in the 1998 film Belly and appeared in 2000′s Romeo Must Die with Jet Li and Aaliyah. DMX and Aaliyah teamed up for C ome Back in One Piece on the film's soundtrack.

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.

The rapper also starred in 2001′s Exit Wounds with Steven Seagal and 2003′s Cradle 2 the Grave with Li.

LEGAL BATTLES

But while DMX made his mark as one of hip hop's most recognisable 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 he 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 the 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.

A couple years later, DMX was sentenced to a year in prison for tax fraud. Prosecutors said he concocted a multi-year scheme to hide millions of dollars in income from the IRS and get around nearly $2 million in tax liabilities.

After his release, DMX planned a 32-date tour to mark the 20th anniversary of It's Dark and Hell is Hot. But the rapper cancelled a series of shows to check himself into a rehab facility in 2019. In an Instagram post, his team said he apologised for the cancelled shows and thanked his fans for the continued support.

Besides his legal troubles, DMX 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. He 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. Memorial plans were not yet set.

 

entertainment@gleanerjm.com