The Life and Impact of Earl “DMX” Simmons

Michael Angee, Design Editor

Legendary rapper, Earl “DMX” Simmons, has passed away at 50 years old. The cultural spark created by the New York native acts as his most memorable trait. 

With every one of his first five albums peaking at number 1 on the Billboard 200, Simmons came to the forefront of music and popular culture. By the end of the 1990s, almost no other rappers saw the same success as DMX did. 

At the peak of the prolific rapper’s career, fans could always expect one thing: a motivational and emotional listen through his songs. 

One can interpret the stage name “DMX” in many ways, from the original Oberheim DMX drum machine in the 1980s to “Dog Man X” and “Dark Man X.”

Simmons was born in Mount Vernon, New York and raised in Yonkers. His mother and father raised Simmons and his siblings as Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

At a young age, Simmons’ mother moved the family to the School Street Projects in Yonkers, an area infamous for its gangs, drugs and violence, all of which are topics that DMX covers on his tracks. 

With Simmons’ father leaving at a young age and his mother physically abusing him, DMX took to the streets where he found companionship in the stray dogs that he could relate to. Both the stray dog and Simmons underwent neglect by their original families and found solace in an unlikely companion. 

The topic of dogs has shown up time and time again in Simmons’ music. Tracks such as “Dogs for Life,” “For My Dogs,” “Dogs Out” and “Where My Dogs At” flaunt the strength and loyalty of a typical stray dog. Along with this, the term “dawg” can also mean a close friend or someone the rapper may have considered family.

Through his youth, X saw himself spending much of his time in and out of juvenile detention centers with charges such as robbery. 

After one of DMX’s many run-ins with the law, a huge transition happened: Simmons converted to Evangelical Christianity after receiving a “call from God” as the rapper put it. The message was for Simmons to become a pastor and notably started to pray at each of his shows after this transition. 

Since then, DMX was on a mission to reach as many people as he could through his already established influence as a celebrity. The main way of reaching his fans and those around him with his message of faith was through music.