Legacy of a Ruff Ryder: R.I.P. DMX

The 50 year old rapper had a difficult life, which he turned into art and music

Maria Hickman, Arts & Culture Editor

Ruff Ryders all over the world are in mourning. On April 9, the world received the unfortunate news that rapper DMX had passed away from a drug overdose that resulted in a heart attack. He was only 50 at the time of his passing, and although he lived a short life, his memory will continue on through the impact he made on the hip-hop community.

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was born on December 18, 1970. From a young age, Simmons had a hard life with an absent father and an abusive mother. This led him to turn to violence and robbery as an escape. As a result, he was in and out of boys’ homes and juvenile detention centers for most of his youth. To make matters worse, Simmons was introduced to cocaine at the age of 14, and he continued to struggle with drug addiction for the rest of his life, leading to his eventual death.

Simmons has his own style when it came to his rapping. He went against the grain and produced passionate and raw music that showcased elements of his life. He was able to relate to people on a deeper level who were also struggling with similar issues.

“Sometimes people wanna feel worse,” the rapper said in an interview with GQ in 2019. “You don’t always want to feel better… there should be a song that helps you feel that way.” 

You don’t always want to feel better… there should be a song that helps you feel that way.


DMX also filled the void left in the hip-hop community after the death of Tupac. Both were similar in the aggressive yet introspective nature of their music.  

Part of what makes DMX truly iconic in the hip-hop industry is that he was a part of a group called the Ruff Ryders. The group consisted of a number of rappers and hip-hop artists, including Drag-On and Swizz Beatz, who were known for bringing unique voices together in both songwriting and performing to truly create their own kind of music. The group was signed to Ruff Ryders Entertainment, and DMX wrote one of his biggest hits, “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” to pay tribute to the group.

Simmons also had many great friendships within the rap community, one being with Snoop Dogg. The two first met at a concert and after hung out together at a studio. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Snoop Dogg remembers how he inspired one of the late rapper’s biggest hits.

“He brought up a story that was so deep and instrumental to our relationship,” Snoop said. “He was like ‘when you 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’ he was like ‘I took that and I made that into my song ‘Get At Me Dog’ cause the way you got at me and said that.’”

The two also starred in a Verzuz battle in 2020 where DMX won in a very close battle.

DMX went through many hardships in his lifetime, but ultimately found his path and passion in music. Without him, hip-hop would not be the same as it is today, and even after his passing, he will continue to inspire future artists to be passionate and real in their music. A memorial was held for family and friends on April 24 at the Barclays Center.