Earl Simmons, more widely known by his stage moniker DMX, sadly transitioned April 9, 2021. While this is a tremendous loss to the hip-hop community and on the worldly plane, he definitely received his flowers while he was here. Most recently, he participated in an episode of Noreaga’s podcast “Drink Champs” this past February, which was great to hear and see him interact in a more relaxed interview atmosphere. We also got to witness him in all his glory at Apple Music’s Verzuz last July for the “Battle of the Dogs”, where he performed opposite Snoop Dogg. Overall, his Verzuz event garnered over 2 million viewers. I made it a personal agenda item to attend via Airplay from my iPhone to my smart TV. It was pure, unadulterated fun reciting lyrics from my middle school and high school days, not to mention, connecting with other fans via Black Twitter during the live event. While this event was epic to the “old heads”, we vividly remember the huge crowd he commanded back at Woodstock 1999. The footage of him performing in red overalls in front of what seems like half the world, resurfaces so often because it’s just THAT unbelievable.
Globally, DMX was revered as “one of one” as he was consistently authentic and transparent about the controversy around his addiction and every prickly life event that lead him to be who he was. The world absolutely loved him because he always laid it all out on the table, when he absolutely did not have to. As a head nod to his fanbase sharing their personal stories of meeting him via social media, since news broke of him being in a compromised state, the world was reminded of that vulnerability, rawness and the delicate thunder he brought as an artist and human being. His laundry list of accolades shares the limelight with his vices which seems to read more like someone who had been here for an additional 50 years. Not only did he outwardly exude a regality about how he worked, his personal brand is incomparable to anyone of his era. Through his vulnerability he continually gave those who found his music a vehicle to be themselves, without judgement. That alone is an indelible contribution to the masses.
From the cult classic Belly and his famous dog adlibs as a Ruff Ryder, to ending shows with prayers to God and his soft spot for his family, he was and will continue to be a pure embodiment of the four elements. I’m extremely happy that I was alive during his career’s peak and have poignant memories of his influence in my life. His music triggers the nostalgia of happiness and excitement as a child, such as the 106 & Park countdown with AJ & Free after school, mentally applauding him on the placement of “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” while watching Deadpool 2 and cracking up at the slow motion of Ryan Reynolds and company getting ready for battle, plus more recently retweeting his Viral DMX Challenge from his infamous “woman-naming” single featuring Sisqo via Black Twitter (again).
Despite what many may think, that man lived unapologetically, giving it all he had to the culture. While we are mourning the loss of his physical presence, we have to acknowledge that he came and accomplished his mission. He inspired millions by storming the scene and standing in his truth. That in itself will live on.
Rest in Power to Earl “DMX” Simmons December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021