DMX, The Legend, The Veteran and The Pioneer of Hip Hop.
The untimely death of veteran rapper DMX is a cut to the very core of the hip hop community.
Born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon New York on December 10 1970, the voracious rapper sadly passed away at the age of 50 at White Plains Hospital, New York on Friday 9 April 2021 exactly a week after he was admitted into the hospital for a reported catastrophic cardiac arrest, it seems ironic, like 2pac 1996's classic "To Live and Die in LA", X truly lived and died in NY, may his soul rest in peace.
I started listening to DMX's music as far back as 1998, I had his debut studio album "It's Dark and Hell is Hot" a masterpiece LP with no famous guest appearances, the album was outstanding, X was the most closest MC to 2pac, after the demise of 2pac in 1996 and Biggie in 1997, X came into the Hip Hop scene with a bang in 1998, personally I feel X was somewhat an aggressive version of 2pac, poetically, lyrically and artistically. Both rappers tend to be able to express themselves through their music in a very similar tone.
"It's Dark and Hell is Hot" released in 1998 is still one of the greatest studio debut hip hop albums of all time, produced mostly by Swizz Beatz, the originality of this LP can be easily compared to the likes of other groundbreaking debut hip hop albums such as "The Notorious B.I.G - Ready To Die 1994", "Snoop Dogg - Doggy Style 1993", "Nas - illmatic 1994" , "Jay Z - Reasonable Doubt" 1996, to name but a few, the album is a pure definition of hardcore rap, the rawness, ruggedness, the prowess, the hip, the hop, the swag, the energy and definitely cemented DMX status in the hip hop music scene. The album had the classic singles, "Ruff Ryders Anthem", "Get At Me Dog' " and "Damien", with the phenomenal success of "It's Dark and Hell is Hot" , DMX dropped "Flesh of My Flesh" Blood of My Blood" in 1998, that also went straight up to Billboard top spots and at that time, X had two albums on Billboard album charts.
In 1999, DMX released "And Then There Was X" another classic, classic hip hop project, featuring guest appearances artistes such as Sisqo (Dru Hill), Regina Belle, Dyme, Drag On &The Lox, this project still appealed heavily to the core hip hop fans and the mainstream audience alike, it features the monster hit single "Party Up - Up in Here" one of the greatest hip hop clubs dance floor fillers of all time, "And Then There Was X" had great commercial success, also went straight up to top of the Billboard charts, in terms of radio friendly jams, commercial tunes and club bangers, this album had it all, with tracks like "What These Bitches Want" featuring Sisqo, "What's My Name", "Here We Go Again", "Good Girls Like Bad Guys" featuring Dyme and "Angel" featuring Regina Belle and more.
This album is my favourite from DMX as it's around this time I started collecting records and embarking on a DJ career, I bought the album on Vinyl on a record shop called Abbey Discs in Dublin and I ended up also buying all the singles on white label, with acapella, instrumental, clean version, dirty version and album version, and I used to just practice a lot of skills on my turntable with this particular album. Every time I listen to this LP, it brings back a lot of good memories.
In October 2001, the NY rapper released his fourth studio album, "The Great Depression" another magnificent hip hop project, this also went straight up to the Billboard Charts top spots, remember this is just a matter of three years and X had four albums on Billboard Charts to spots, X was selling shifting millions of units (songs) worldwide and on top of the chart spots worldwide not just in America, his presence in the hip hop music industry was felt all over the world, X was so paramount, "The Great Depression" really hadn't very famous guest appearances artistes, though it had the smashing single "I Miss You" featuring Faith Evans
which is a personal song dedicated to his late grandmother, but just like X previous albums the main emphasis on the album is X and not featured artistes, "Who We Be", "Trina Moe", "Shorty Was Da Bomb" and "We Right Here" are major standout tracks on this project, and are both well attributed solo project, no features, all I'm trying to say here is that X is one of the fewest rapper that can deliver a hit track with no famous collaborator.
This is where the transformation begins for DMX with a contemplative perspective, after consecutive 3-4 years of steady stardom, millions of albums/singles sold, under his belt he has had a number of chart topping hits / dance floor fillers worldwide and it is fair to say that success was lavished on him at this stage and with this album, I feel he was trying to find himself at this stage of his life, musically and on a personal level, perhaps he was trying to find a purpose, amidst all the personally struggles X was going through, he still delivered a cinematic piece of work with "The Great Depression" album.
"Grand Champ" X's fifth studio album was released in 2003, masterfully crafted with top notch productions, under Def Jam.
On this album, you can still feel that the rawness and realness still persist in X but in a more matured way compared to the previous albums, the album also landed on top spot of the Billboard charts making DMX the only artist in the history of 'The Billboard 200' to reach no1 with his first five albums.
"Get It On The Floor" and "Where Da Hood At" were very notable tracks from this project, as a DJ and like some of my DJ colleagues both in the clubs and on radio, we tend to naturally look for those club bangers, popular hits, tracks that stood out from an album, and potentially hit singles per se and both tunes really met that criterion.
"X is Gonna Give It To Ya" is one of my all time favourites from X, this serves as bonus track on the "Grand Champ" as it was released earlier in March 2003 as a soundtrack to the action packed thriller movie "Cradle To The Grave" which starred DMX and Jet Li.
"Grand Champ" unlike previous albums was an all star project with massive features from the likes of 50 Cent, Monica, Patti Labelle, Eve, Jadakiss, Cam'Ron, Styles P, Swizz Beats, Syleena Johnson and more.
X's 2006 "Year Of The Dog Again" this being his 6th album is also star studded affair album, very similar to his immediate previous "Grand Champ", it features appearances from Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Swizz Beats, Big Stan, Amerie and more, he furthermore released "Undisputed" album in 2012 under Seven Arts Label with productions from Swizz Beatz & J.R. Rotem. X also did a collaboration album titled "Dog Eats Rabbit" in 2017 with dubstep / trap duo Blackburner.
The rest is history.............
DMX remains one of the greatest rappers of all time.
DMX will remain forever in the hearts of the hip hop community, just like 2pac, Biggie, Big Pun, Jam Master Jay, Eazy E, Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke and all the hip hop legends resting in power.
P.S. The concluding part of my blogpost on DMX will be published as soon as possible.
Stream "Best of DMX" Below;