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Daniel Mikolášik
April 9, 2021, 10:12am
Reading time: 3:41

King of Hardcore Rap but Also a Gospel Preacher. Who Was DMX and How Did He Become a Legend?

Fans will forever remember him for his uncompromising rap and immortal hits.

Daniel Mikolášik
April 9, 2021, 10:12am
Reading time: 3:41
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King of Hardcore Rap but Also a Gospel Preacher. Who Was DMX and How Did He Become a Legend?
Zdroj: GettyImages/ Taylor Hill
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Hip hop has lost a great legend today. Earl Simmons, known in the rap world as DMX, passed away at the age of 50. Early April, he was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack that followed drug overdose.


Drug problems were a big part of his life long before that. He has openly confessed his addiction and even volunteered for a drug addiction center, where he has spent several months himself. He has also served some time in prison, but fans will remember him most of all for his powerful rap skills and immortal hits. Who was DMX?


In this article, you'll read about:
  • What record he holds, as the only rapper in the world.
  • How him and Jay-Z met before they both became famous.
  • How his obsession with dogs manifested.
  • How many children he had and why he declared bankruptcy because of them.
  • Which album of his got most success and why.
  • How heroin addiction accompanied him throughout his life. 

King of hardcore rap

Earl Simmons, also known as DMX, Dark Man X, Dog Man X or Divine Master of the Unknown, was born in Mount Vernone, state of New York. He started rapping in the 90s. After the passing of two of the biggest names in rap, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., he arrived as the new representative of hardcore rap.



In the early 90s, he tried to break through with beatboxing and establish his name in street rap battles. That's actually how he met Jay-Z before they both became famous. But it wasn't as easy as he initially had thought.



DMX was a typical street rapper, but thanks to his talent, unique voice and uncompromising flow, he was also able to quickly succeed in the mainstream waters. His debut album saw the light of day on May 12th, 1998. The album It's Dark and Hell is Hot was produced by the famous Swizz Beatz, with whom he's often created together, under the wings of their label Ruff Ryders.


The album with quality music, strong rap and raw lyrics about his difficult childhood and adolescence in children's homes quickly caught on and a great career unfolded. In addition, DMX holds a unique record. He became the only rapper ever, who has managed to consecutively reach #1 in the prestigious  Billboard 200 music chart 5 times, with each album release.



Source: GettyImages/ Taylor Hill

Dog obsession

When you say DMX, many will instantly channel an angry dog and start barking. Even in his ad-libs, you could often hear his voice imitating a dog. He was actually obsessed with cynology, often saying that dogs, and especially pit bulls, are his only true friends.


In addition to choruses reminiscent of dog barking, dogs often appeared in his music videos. However, his love for animals gradually cooled off and his love for drugs began evolving instead. In 2002, he was ordered by court to serve community service for animal cruelty, rioting and drug possession.



About 5 years later, during a house search, police found 12 neglected dogs, drugs and a lot of weapons in his house. No one was feeding the pit bulls, and the guards even found bodies of three dead animals.



„We had a caretaker that wasn't taking care, that's what happened. He loves dogs - he loves these animals. Those dogs are practically his family,“ said his lawyer Murray Richman at the time.


His fifth studio album Grand Champ was one of the most successful of his projects. With a pit bull on the cover and many well-known hits such as Where the Hood At, The Rain, A'Yo Kato and Dogs Out, produced by Kanye West. In addition to reaching the top of the Billboard 200 again, he reaffirmed that his place on the scene is well deserved. 



Heroin addiction followed him all along

Drug problems gradually began to unfold further. At the beginning of 2009, he got sent behind bars for 9 months for possession of drugs. After his release, he announced a series to document his healing process. In the end, however, before the first episode aired, DMX fell into heroin again, just three weeks after returning from prison.


At the same time, it seemed that his life was finally beginning to take on a new and better direction. He began to study the Bible and preach publicly about God. He spoke of himself as a deeply religious man. Although he was known for his gangster background, gospel songs such as Lord Give Me a Sign from 2006 or Jesus Loves Me from 2008 were released during his career.


It didn't last long, though. Between 2008 and 2015, he was arrested 14 times, most of which was due to illegal drug possession. Last time he was released from prison was in January 2019, after serving almost 12 months for tax fraud. After his release, he volunteered again at a drug addiction center, spending several months there.


Source: GettyImages/John Lamparski


During his lifetime, he managed to father 12 children with various women, and due to huge alimony combined with the payment of several bails, he had to declare bankruptcy in 2013. In addition to music, however, he was also known as a professional actor.


In the past, he starred in the 1998 film Belly, with Nas and Method Man by his side. He has also appeared in films such as Never Die Alone, Last Hour or Cradle 2 the Grave, playing the main character. One film that certainly stands out amongst the others is the Seagal movie Exit Wounds, for which he even composed the title song - No Sunshine.

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Thumbnail: GettyImages/John Lamparski
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