Today, we remember DMX, the undisputed king of hardcore rap and so much more.
It’s been hard to find the words to adequately describe how difficult it’s been losing DMX. I play the hook of “Party Up” in my head at least once day. The Ruff Ryders hold so much more meaning when you’re from Y.O., where it all began. And don’t even get me started on that signature growl. X was one of the few reasons I’ve been proud to call Yonkers home. He singlehandedly put us on the map.
When Verzuz became one of the few places we could find refuge early on in the pandemic, one of the first people that came to mind to be featured was DMX. Who else but my hometown King? Alongside none other than Jadakiss, of course.
When it was reported that Earl “DMX” Simmons was hospitalized due to a heart attack, my heart sank. A wave of concern swept the interwebs. Prayers and well wishes poured in from X fans everywhere. His longtime collaborator and mentee Swizz Beats even organized a prayer vigil outside the White Plains hospital where he stayed. It’s been the longest seven days we’ve collectively experienced in quite some time. And even amongst multiple false alarms regarding his status, we remained hopeful that, by some miracle, he’d pull through.
That hope was crushed one last time this afternoon when it was officially announced by his family that X had indeed crossed over at merely 50 years old.
And it hurt like hell. New York had already been through enough recently with the untimely passing of Pop Smoke just last February. In hip-hop, all too often our legends die young and our rising stars die younger. Despite all he had overcome, we lost Earl at 50 years old.
I don’t know about you but I’ve spent the day listening to several of X’s signature records like “X Gon’ Give it to Ya“, “Where the Hood At“, “What These Bitches Want“, and my all-time favorite “Party Up“.
I’ve read every tribute and watched every interview.
And I’ll spend the weekend watching Belly a few times over.
Like most of us, I’m saddened that X was taken from us due to a battle he fought nearly all his life, and so transparently. But despite this, I’m heartened knowing that while he was with us on this Earth, he was rightfully given his flowers. And he felt he lived a life fulfilled.
Despite the Grammy-nominated rapper’s commercial success, what I love most about X isn’t his music. What I’ll remember most fondly isn’t the barking or tough persona. His legacy is far greater than critical acclaim or commercial appeal. Earl Simmons embodied a kind of softness that didn’t take away from his street cred. It was in his willingness to be completely vulnerable that encouraged us to find our strength. And it was in the acceptance of his difficult past that we learned to find peace of our own.
I can’t bring myself to tell him farewell. I regret that I was never able to personally encounter him in this life. But I firmly believe I will in the next. So it’s long live X, my beloved hometown King, until then.