Remembering DMX: The SOHH Squad Reflects On A Rap Legend

The hip-hop community was collectively devastated on April 9, when New York rap veteran DMX passed away. He was 50 years old.

@sohh @sohhdotcom

Comments Off on Remembering DMX: The SOHH Squad Reflects On A Rap Legend

From his 1998 debut It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, to the release of Grand Champ in 2003, DMX dropped five consecutive albums that reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Each one of them sold at least one million copies. It was a run of success as great as anyone in the genre has ever had, and X’s cultural impact during that time was matched only by some of the rap game’s Mt. Rushmore-level legends.

DMX the artist became legendary by exposing so many pieces of Earl Simmons the man. His music — his public existence, in fact — was open, vulnerable and honest. He didn’t just celebrate his victories in front of us, he also took us through the torment of his losses. He confronted his demons and gave us a blow-by-blow recap of the fight, no matter the outcome.

Ahead of the public memorial services for DMX on April 24-25 in Brooklyn, the SOHH Squad reflects on the life and career of the Ruff Ryders’ franchise talent by sharing our favorite songs, videos and memories of a rapper who was truly one of a kind.

Earl ‘DMX’ Simmons: 12/18/70 – 4/9/21

Chris Goosens: “As somebody of faith and somebody who has been personally affected by addiction, this one hurts. A lot.

“Just thinking about the situation is heartbreaking, but it makes me happy he’s in a better place. His words and lyrics rang true and on top of that, DMX really put others before himself. He was admirable, respectful, loving, caring, and a true warrior.

“May he rest in peace. His memory will live on.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by SOHH (@sohhdotcom)

Hannah Cunningham: “If you don’t know any DMX songs, you know ‘Where The Hood At?’. Every hood plays this song, especially in NY.”

Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth

Trenton Coley: “Favorite X song of all time? Gotta be the ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem,’ dawg! That isht STILL hits hard AF every time you hear that intro.

“‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ by DMX, directly followed by ‘Champions’ off the Roc-A-Fella Dream Team album were the two motivating songs I used to listen to, on repeat, the mornings we’d have PT tests in the Army. X got me through so many push-ups, sit-ups and runs!

“I remember being in high school, one pant leg rolled up, with a bubble vest and some Timbs with an old White Sox tied skullie on. With them BIG AF Sony headphones blasting ‘Get At Me Dawg’!

“Man, y’all remember when It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot dropped, the media called him the next 2Pac. Nah, son. X wasn’t Pac. But they both was poetic with the pen, man. X brought a unique energy to everything he did, making him one of the hardest MCs of the ’90s! Not gonna lie, I styled a lot of my fits in high school off of Earl Simmons videos, haha.”

Cyrus Langhorne: “X represented so much for hip-hop when he took off in 1998. I remember just how powerful NY rap was from ’98 to ’00 specifically with JAY-Z‘s Hard Knock Life Vol. 2, Busta RhymesE.L.E classic, Big Pun‘s Capital Punishment, plus DMX’s classics — all in 1998 alone. Much respect to X’s legacy and the entire Ruff Ryders movement, such a solid time in hip-hop and glad I could experience it.

“For my favorite DMX track, it’s “How’s It Goin’ Down.” That is the definition of hip-hop and R&B. Faith Evans‘ voice is too perfect on here and helped ‘gangsta’ guys with a thug love song.”

Memories Of A Hip-Hop Icon

Hanan Othman: “For a hip-hop newbie, ‘Party Up’ is what got me addicted to DMX’s flow and style. It was irresistible and I get pumped hearing it. Every. Single. Time.”

Annika Green Allen: “I had a serious crush on DMX! ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’?! That growl?!

“Dope ass rapper, iconic figure in hip-hop, but also a tortured soul. I feel bad for all that we’ve heard over the years about his childhood, his substance abuse, and how his story is ending. God bless him.”

Amaar Burton: “James Baldwin said that to be Black and conscious in America is ‘to be in a rage almost all the time.’

“DMX spoke to that rage, perhaps more eloquently than any rapper ever has. Mike Tyson spoke to that rage in the sports arena, perhaps more eloquently than any athlete ever has. Bring those two together, and imagine the energy in the air when Mike Tyson would make his walk to the ring before a fight, with DMX’s music bumping in the building.

“At least twice, Tyson picked DMX as his walk-out music: ‘Intro’ from It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, and ‘What’s My Name?’ from …And Then There Was X. What better music to prepare you for battle?

“It was the perfect collaboration, because DMX was the Mike Tyson of hip-hop. All of that fury, all of that explosiveness, all of that menace. And at the same time, there was always the softer side, the vulnerable side. There was a level of introspection and intelligence that some people didn’t expect from a man who looked like that, coming from where he came from. He laid his pain out in front of us, for our sake and for his own sake. He commanded the audience’s attention.

“DMX, like Tyson, burst onto the scene as an unstoppable force. And at his peak, he was as good as anyone has ever been at his craft.”