DMX, on the other hand, is not in any way exaggerating when he describes being a bad, bad man in his songs."
Earl Simmons (December 18, 1970 - April 9, 2021), more widely known by his stage name DMX, was a rapper and actor from Yonkers, New York.
The name DMX was originally not an acronym, but simply part of a name taken from a popular drum machine of The '90s, the Oberheim DMX. However, in some of his pre-Ruff Ryders recordings, it stood for "Divine Master of the Unknown", as adapted from the Supreme Alphabet of the Five Percent Nation, before Simmons eventually settled on what would become the most famous version of the acronym: "Dark Man X," with X retaining its "unknown" meaning.
DMX was widely known for his harsh, gravelly voice, his frequent use of energetic call-and-response lyrics, and the extremely violent subject matter of his songs. His early life was extremely painful, with hardships including abusive parents and a drug addiction starting from age 14 that haunted him all his life, which began when he was tricked into smoking crack by his older musical mentor.
He attracted controversy for his songs' constant uses of the words "fuck" and "nigga", their rampant sexism and homophobianote , his extensive arrest record, and his tendencies to feud with or diss other rappers publicly, especially Drake. He became famous for not hiding any of these controversies from the public, having no problem openly talking about them. He also fathered a record fifteen children from nine different women.
Yet at the same time, DMX was revered as one of the greatest rappers in the genre's history for his ability to put his personal pain into song. Him not hiding his "dark side" from the public led to many admiring him for his honesty and willingness to stand up to the media, and his intensely emotional songs won him millions of fans (including a huge female fanbase due to his frequent shirtlessness), many awards, and respect from famous musicians worldwide. He also performed regular charity work, and was celebrated for refusing to leave his New York street roots, always emphasizing them in song, and rarely surrounding himself with jewelry and fine clothes.
Despite the gritty themes of his songs, DMX was a devout Christian all his life. He mixed spiritual themes of redemption, hope, and love into his songs as much as he did violence and hostility, and he could easily go from singing dark, hardcore pieces to gospels at the drop of a hat.
He also loved dogs, his levels of obsession ranging from owning a succession of beloved pets to identifying as a dog himself, frequently barking and growling in his songs, and even eating dog food.
On April 2, 2021, Simmons, who had been candid about his battles with drug addiction, relapsed and was hospitalized from an overdose-induced heart attack. He was reportedly in a vegetative state, and was placed on life support. After a week of his condition deteriorating, he died of multiple organ failure on April 9. He was 50 years old.
- It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)
- Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood (1998) note
- ...And Then There Was X (1999)
- The Great Depression (2001)
- Grand Champ (2003)
- Year of the Dog...Again (2006)
- Undisputed (2012)
- Redemption of the Beast (2015)
- Exodus (2021, posthumous release)
X gon' deliver these tropes to ya:
- Accidental Misnaming: Used in Damien IIIDamien: What happened to the right hand, Light Man?X: Nah, that's Dark ManDamien: Well, let's get it right, then.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Good Girls, Bad Guys" from ...And Then There Was X provides a somewhat humorous take on this.
- Animal Motifs: His obsession with dogs is prominent in his works, from the Angry Guard Dogs that appear in cover art to his audible barking and growling in songs.
- As the Good Book Says...: "Lord Give Me a Sign" begins with DMX quoting Isaiah 54:17.
- Badass Preacher: He always finds a way to insert a full-blown prayer track into his albums in between the gangster joints.
- Big "WHAT?!": Pretty much every second word in most of his songs.
- Born Unlucky: "Born Loser".
- Byronic Hero: The very persona he cultivated was effectively this. He was deeply troubled and openly flawed, struggling with a constant and deadly addiction, yet sought to come to terms with it through his songs, and his more spiritual work showed a side that yearned for redemption and felt guilt for many sins.
- Call-and-Response Song: The Damien series, as well as Angel and a few other songs.
- Call-Back: In Damien III- "What happened to the right hand, Light Man?" is a Call-Back to Damien's "For that nigga, I would bleed/ give him my right hand/ now that I think about it, yo, that's my man!"
- Christmas Songs: He actually recorded a straight-faced cover of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We're not joking at all.
- Chronic Villainy: Referenced occasionally in his Prayer songs, as well as Ready To Meet Him.
- Creator Thumbprint: DMX loved dogs. Specifically, pitbulls. Growing up, he'd befriend stray dogs while sleeping on the streets.
- Deal with the Devil: "Damien" and its sequels.
- Downer Ending: The song "ATF" ends with DMX dying in a shootout with police.
- Actually insinuated it was all a dream.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: "Born Loser", his very first single, sounds nothing like his signature gruff style, and closer to to LL Cool J or post-Homebase Will Smith. His second single, an early version of "Make A Move", began showcasing an early version of the aggressive "Ruff Ryders" flow he'd become known for.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In "The Professional," X tells the story of a hitman from a first-person perspective.I could be the one driving the school bus that yo kid's in / Except that I don't like to involve women and children
- Completely subverted in "X is Comin'". He kills an enemy's entire family except for the daughter, whom if she is older than 15, he will rape right in front of the enemy while taunting them. It's implied if the daughter was younger than 15, then she would have been executed like the rest of the family.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: In "Damien II", a dog is terrified of and barking at the mysterious man who is later revealed to be the Devil.
- Evil Sounds Deep: In the "Damien" series, the titular character usually has a strange yet not necessarily deep voice. However, should he get serious about something, this trope goes into full swing.
- Guilt Complex: "Slippin'" has him admit that he blames himself for his father abandoning him and his mother.
- Guttural Growler: One of his biggest trademarks is his signature gruff voice, accompanied with his occasional barks.
- Horrorcore: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.
- I Am the Trope: He declares "I am the hood! I am the streets!" in "Where The Hood At."
- I Love the Dead: This lyric from "Bring Your Whole Crew":I got blood on my hands and there's no remorse / I got blood on my dick 'cause I fucked a corpse!
- List Song- "Who We Be" from The Great Depression and "What These B***ches Want" from ...And Then There Was X.
- Loners Are Freaks: "How many times do I have to tell you rap niggas I have no friends?!" (from "What's My Name?")
- Lyrical Tic: He made frequent use of dog-like growls, barking, "Uh!", "What?!" and "Come on!" in his songs, among other things. Given the association with dogs, he was also prone to using "cats" as short hand for "weak person."
- The barking even surfaced during his Behind the Music episode, while he was talking about his dead grandmother.
- Mood Whiplash: His video for "Where Da Hood At?" is his typical violent gangster rap (sprinkled with a little gay bashing), but then it goes into a clip of "Ayo Kato," a sweet, sad tribute to a deceased friend.
- Mr. Fanservice: Had quite a number of female fans. Must be the allergy to shirts.
- Any time he took his shirt off onstage, a wave of fangirl shrieks—more girls than you'd ever think would be at a hardcore rap concert—was sure to follow.
- Myth Arc: The "Damien" story crosses songs from three different albums.
- Professional Killer: "The Professional" from ...And Then There Was X has DMX portray a contract killer as opposed to simply a gangster.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Commonly used, but most evident in "What's My Name?", where he recites his name, the title, and numerous other phrases IN! THIS! MANNER!
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Party Up (Up in Here)" is pretty much this in song form, along with hints of Murder Ballad (such as the stanza "Listen, yo ass is about to be missing / You know who's gonna find ya? Some old man fishin' / Grandma's wishin' your soul was at rest / But it's hard to digest with the size of the hole in your chest.").
- Three Chords and the Truth: In comparison to most New York rappers at the time that relied on complex and multi-syllabic flows codified by Eric B. & Rakim and Nas, DMX preferred a simpler, rhythmic approach with frequent repetition and interjections as well as his iconic, growling voice.
- Soprano and Gravel: His duets with Aaliyah and Monica.
- Vocal Evolution: Prior to 1994, DMX lacked his signature Guttural Growler voice in his raps.