The hip-hop world was left in mourning in April 2021 when DMX died at the age of just 50. The man born Earl Simmons was the first-ever artist to top the Billboard 200 with their first five albums, sold over 74 million records, and had also forged a successful acting career with leading roles in "Belly," "Exit Wounds" and "Cradle 2 the Grave." But he was just as renowned for his checkered private life as his career achievements.
In fact, DMX’s rap sheet was even longer than his rap discography — he ended up serving prison time on no fewer than 30 occasions with offenses ranging from robbery and assault to tax evasion and even impersonating a federal officer! He also went bankrupt three times, reportedly had 15 children with nine different women, and struggled with both mental health and substance abuse issues.
But the DMX story hasn’t ended with his untimely death. A whole host of previously unheard personal tales and career titbits have emerged since. Here’s a look at 14 of the most interesting things we’ve learned about the much-missed Grand Champ.
DMX’s music induced the birth of Action Bronson’s child
As you would imagine, pretty much anyone who’s ever spit a few rhymes paid their respects to DMX following his tragic death, including Missy Elliott, T.I., and Eve. But chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson always likes to do things a little different, and his tribute to the three-time Grammy nominee involved his partner’s 18 hours in labor.
During an appearance on the hit podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience," Bronson explained that in 2019 his girlfriend had spent a torturously long time waiting to give birth. But her agony thankfully came to an end when he turned to one of his musical heroes for comfort: "I put fu**ing DMX on. ‘Stop, drop.’ That muthaf***a jumped out of her! I swear on everything, it’s on camera. It’s on film, as soon as the Peruvian flute music stopped, DMX came on … he jumped out."
Yes, it seems like Bronson Jr. came out of the womb a hip-hop fan, something his father wishes he’d been able to thank DMX for. "It hurts my f***ing heart that I was never able to tell him that," Bronson added.
DMX had finished his eighth album
As the likes of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. have proven, death is no barrier to new music in the hip-hop world. And DMX fans can console themselves with the fact that there’s at least one more record in the bank just waiting for a release.
The man formerly known as Earl Simmons hadn’t dropped a studio album since 2012’s "Undisputed" (or his 2015 unofficial release of "Redemption of the Beast"). But before his death, he’d been busy working with the likes of Usher, Alicia Keys, and Pop Smoke on his next LP. Luckily, the rapper had managed to complete it. And according to Darrin ‘Dee’ Dean, the co-founder of the Ruff Ryders label, it’s more than worthy of sitting alongside DMX’s finest works.
Dean told Fox 5, "It’s just sad that he ain’t going to be able to music … This album right here is special. Like you probably never heard no music like you heard on this one that we did just now. This is probably one of his great albums. One of the best. It’s a classic, for sure." Craig Brodhead, DMX’s manager, also added, "He was excited about it, he couldn’t wait to promote it and get out there with the music."
DMX’s fiancée paid tribute with a tattoo
The mother of DMX’s 15th and final child Exodus Simmons, Desiree Lindstrom was understandably left devastated by her fiance’s death. And shortly after her loss, she decided to pay tribute to the rapper with a tattoo inspired by his 2006 hit single "Dog Love."
Krystal Kills, a tattooist based in New York, later uploaded a picture of her work on Instagram captioned, "I feel honored to be able to do this memorial but also saddened. Your light was unmatchable." Kills then addressed Lindstrom directly, adding, "I pray you find your way through these dark times, and remember the love you had for each other will forever be untethered. I’m glad I got to witness it. The world lost an icon but also a great father. Praying for your family. REST IN POWER DMX."
Lindstrom took to Instagram herself several days later to give her first public statement about DMX’s death. Alongside a loved-up image of the pair, she wrote, "The first night we met and you held me close. I knew I would never let go. I was lost in you and nothing else mattered. My best friend, my baby, my love … truly my everything. Thank you for us. Thank you for Exodus. Thank you God for Earl Simmons … forever X."
DMX was ‘the closest thing to a prophet’
Rapper/producer Swizz Beatz, who worked with DMX on one of his biggest hits, "Ruff Ryders Anthem," delivered one of the most glowing tributes in the wake of the rapper’s death. In a heartfelt Instagram video post, the One Man Band Man described his long-time collaborator as a "different type of artist, different type of creative … different type of soul." And he also painted a picture of a star whose troublesome reputation only told half the story.
Beatz said, "Since the day that I met him, he lived his life for everyone else … You ain’t ever seen DMX next to a Lamborghini … You ain’t ever seen him iced out with no jewelry, he did not care about any of that. He was the biggest. DMX was the biggest. And let me tell you why he was the biggest. He was the biggest because he prayed for everybody else, more than he did himself."
In fact, Beatz, who’d recently dropped a new song with DMX and French Montana, went on to describe the five-time chart-topper as the "closest thing to a prophet," adding, "That man suffered every day. That man suffered from the day that I known him. He suffered. When y’all heard his first song he was suffering. Know why he was suffering? Because he took everybody’s pain and made it his. His humanitarian work should be celebrated."
DMX would entertain his fellow prisoners
In 2018, DMX found himself in prison again, this time at the Metropolitan Correctional Center New York for failing a drug test, a direct breach of the release conditions while awaiting his sentence for tax fraud. But from a video that emerged after his death, it appears as though the rapper was very much a popular inmate.
Obtained from an anonymous source by Daily Mail, the clip shows the "X Gon’ Give It To Ya" hitmaker laying down some bars to entertain other prisoners while waiting to be transferred to a different facility. The insider explained, "We were talking to each other right before he left. Someone asked if he could rap for us. I had a cell phone and I recorded it as he was doing it."
And it seems as though DMX was just as well-liked when he wasn’t in rap mode: "He was regular, considering the circumstances. He got along swell with the other inmates. We were there together for six months and then he got shipped to another jail … We asked him about the things that go on in Hollywood. When he was around the guys, he seemed normal."
DMX liked working for fast food joints
DMX undoubtedly had a mischievous side, as several fan encounter stories which emerged in the wake of his untimely death proved. Indeed, one of the rapper’s hobbies appeared to be taking random shifts at fast-food eateries whenever the mood took him.
In her Instagram tribute, a friend recalled the time DMX visited a Catonsville, Maryland branch of KFC and decided he wanted a bit of the Colonel Sanders employee experience. She wrote, "When I got to KFC, he was behind the counter taking orders with a badge they made him. You can only imagine how happy the customers were when they seen DMX getting their food. He always gave so much of himself and I will continue to be a giver like him."
This wasn’t the first time that the "Party Up (Up In Here)" hitmaker made restaurant workers do a double-take, either. During a visit to a Buffalo IHOP in 2015, he wandered into the kitchen to make himself an omelette. "The most exciting thing that happened in our city all year," was how one local on Twitter later described the unlikely gatecrash.
DMX once pretended to be Ja Rule
Previously friends and members of the same Murder Inc. posse, DMX and Ja Rule later became sworn enemies, with the former claiming the latter had stolen his trademark gruff-voiced delivery. But following the 2002 diss track "They Want War," their very public feud appeared to reach a stalemate and three years later DMX insisted he didn’t have a beef anymore.
It actually took until 2009, and a joint appearance at VH1’s Hip Hop Honors, for the pair to publicly bury the hatchet. But DMX soon proved once and for all that things had cooled when he met fan Manseen Logan on the streets of Atlanta just a few months later. He actually pretended to be the "Always on Time" hitmaker, as Logan recalled to Complex following his death:
"’I’m Ja Rule,’ he told us as he approached, while laughing. Now, I knew good and damn well that he wasn’t Ja Rule, but at first I didn’t recognize that he was the iconic DMX. In the years since, I’ve tried to understand how I missed that, and I’ve come to blame it on my poor facial recognition skills and the numerous watered-down shots consumed earlier in the night." Logan went on to reveal how the rapper shared a cigarette with her sister, danced with the pair, and even asked to take a picture with them. She added, "The fact that he wanted to bless us with a photo says a lot about his character."
DMX is just as popular in death as in life
DMX reportedly shifted over 74 million records during his lifetime, scoring five Billboard number one LPs and more than a dozen US Hot 100 singles along the way. But prior to his death, the rapper hadn’t graced the main album chart since 2015’s "Redemption Of The Beast" peaked at number 22.
Of course, following his death, both longtime fans and new converts flocked to their streaming platform of choice to listen to DMX’s back catalog. In fact, Billboard reported that his play count skyrocketed by a whopping 928 percent! And as a result, his 2010 "Best Of" reentered the Billboard 200 at No.73 before climbing all the way up to runner-up position the week after.
DMX’s 1998 debut "It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot" also returned to the US Top 50, while "Ruff Ryders Anthem," "Party Up (Up In Here)" and "X Gon’ Give It To Ya" all found their way back inside the US Hot 100 again.
DMX’s casket was carried by a monster truck
You may have thought that Prince Philip‘s coffin being carried to his royal funeral in a custom-built Land Rover was slightly unusual. But that was nothing compared to the vehicle used to transport DMX’s casket to his memorial just a week later.
Those who lined up on the streets of Brooklyn waiting to pay their respects to the late rapper certainly couldn’t have missed the procession, that’s for sure. Not only was the casket a shiny red color, but it was also placed in a big-wheel monster truck emblazoned with "Long Live DMX" on its side and escorted by thousands of bikers on its way to the Barclays Center.
Unsurprisingly, the Ford F250 wouldn’t have come cheap. They can cost anything from $70,000 to a whopping $175,000 — and that’s before all the customization, too. "Dirty Mudder Truckers" host Matt Steele explained to New York Post what changes were likely to have been made: "They added a custom tube frame, transfer case, monster truck shocks, 20 ton axles, and custom wheels and large tractor tires. Other modifications could include custom engine building, sound system and paint."
DMX’s daughter performed at his memorial
After DMX’s casket arrived at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in style, the rapper’s memorial service got underway — and it proved to be quite a star-studded affair. Swizz Beatz, Nas, and Eve were just a few of the major hip-hop names who paid tribute live on stage, along with Kanye West’s Sunday Service choir who sang throughout the service.
But they were all undoubtedly overshadowed by DMX’s children at the event, which was held before a more private service attended only by the rapper’s nearest and dearest. All 15 took to the stage to pay their respects to their father and the lessons he taught them, including "be kind to everyone" and "always say thank you."
And then daughter Sonovah Junior proved she’d inherited the Simmons hip-hop genes with an interpretation of DMX’s hit "Slippin.’" ("I am growing, I am learning, to hold my head up/My daddy’s still holding my hand, so I gotta get up/I learned so much from my father…"). And judging by the snippets of music she’s posted on her Instagram account, the youngster appears determined to follow in her dad’s footsteps, too.
His cause of death started a hip-hop feud
White Plains Hospital, the New York facility where DMX died, announced the rapper suffered a "catastrophic cardiac arrest" in an official statement (via ABC News). But as several weeks on, the actual cause of the rapper’s heart failure was still unknown. TMZ was the first to report that a drug overdose had been to blame, a claim that wasn’t confirmed or denied by any of DMX’s representatives. And then rumors surfaced the star had also contracted COVID-19.
According to Irv Gotti, who’d signed the Grand Champ to Def Jam Recordings, there was allegedly truth in both of these allegations. He told Chicago’s 107.5 WGCI (via HipHopDX), "They said it was a bad dose of crack and they said some drug Fentanyl was mixed in with the crack and that’s what made him overdose. When he got to the hospital, he got diagnosed with COVID and he couldn’t breathe — you know that COVID messes with your respiratory system — so that’s why he had to get hooked up to the ventilator. They said before he did, they was like, ‘His brain died.’"
Gotti’s remarks didn’t go down too well with 50 Cent, though. The "In Da Club" star took to Instagram where he posted a picture of his long-time enemy captioned, "This guy is a idiot. Did he just say DMX died from smoking crack and fentanyl! Why would he say that?"
DMX talked about dying in his last aired interview
We might not know what DMX’s last words are, but we do know that in one of his last aired interviews the rapper talked about death. During a chat on hip-hop podcast "Drink Champs" in February 2021, the Ruff Ryders signing explained how he’d feel if he knew he was about to shuffle off this mortal coil.
"I could drop dead right now," DMX suddenly blurted out in the interview conducted less than two months before his death. After those in the studio expressed shock at such a statement, the chart-topper clarified, "If I was to drop dead right now, my last thought would be: ‘I’ve had a good life.’"
DMX, whose back catalog features tracks titled "Ryde or Die," "Why We Die" and "Ride Till I Die," certainly isn’t the first rapper who died before their time to have previously addressed such a morbid subject. Tupac Shakur, D12’s Proof, and The Notorious B.I.G. had all talked about dying young in their music, while the latter’s two studio efforts were titled "Ready to Die" and "Life After Death."
Snoop Dogg inspired one of DMX’s earliest hits
DMX scored his first solo US Hot 100 hit in 1998 with "Get At Me Dog," a collaboration with The Lox’s Sheek Louch which peaked at No.39. And it turns out that another hip-hop legend inspired its confrontational title.
While appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in April 2021, Snoop Dogg recalled how he’d first met the late star backstage at a New York gig back in 1994. And the proud stoner‘s greeting obviously gave DMX an idea: "When he first met me, I was like away from him, and he was saying, ‘What’s happening, what’s up?’ And I was like, ‘Get at me dog’ … So that night inspired him to create that song, ‘Get at Me Dog,’ which was one of his, you know, biggest hood records that he put out."
In another interview with Hot 97, Snoop revealed that DMX had recorded his forthcoming eighth LP at his own studio in Los Angeles following their rap battle on Verzuz: "He never left. He stayed in L.A. and rented my studio out and did his whole album. I cooked for them, I laid it out for him. I made it feel like mi casa es su casa … That was the best moment; that he felt comfortable enough to do his album at my spot and he didn’t leave L.A. until it was done."
DMX nearly collaborated with Sum 41
It sounds unlikely but yes, there was very nearly a moment when DMX nearly headed into the studio with Canada’s premier early ’00s punk-pop quartet Sum 41. In an interview with GQ shortly after the rapper’s death, frontman Deryck Whibley revealed that it was only his self-doubt that stopped the collab from happening:
"DMX’s team did get in touch with me a couple years later to work on a song with him. They sent me a track and I put my own track together. But I felt self-conscious about it. I liked it but I was thinking, ‘This is really good — but it’s DMX! I don’t think this is hard enough!’ So I never sent it to him."
DMX might not have made any music with Sum 41 but bizarrely, he did show up riding an ATV in the 2000 video for their single "Makes No Difference." The two acts were both signed to Def Jam at the time, something Whibley admits was perhaps the only reason the rapper agreed to make such a random cameo: "There’s no way that he would have known who we were. I think it appealed to him that we were on the [same] label and the only rock band on [Def Jam]. He thought that was kind of cool."