DMX arrives at the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York. File/ AP
DMX, the raspy-voiced hip-hop artist who produced the songs "Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and "Party Up (Up in Here)" and who rapped with a trademark delivery that was often paired with growls, barks and "What!” as an ad-lib, has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 50.
The Grammy-nominated performer died after suffering "catastrophic cardiac arrest,” according to the hospital in White Plains, New York, where he died. He was rushed there from his home on April 2.
The rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, had struggled with drug addiction since his teenage years. His lawyer, Murray Richman, had earlier said he could not confirm reports that DMX overdosed.
DMX made a splash in rap music in 1998 with his first studio album, "It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The multiplatinum-selling album was anchored by several hits including "Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” "Get At Me Dog,” "Stop Being Greedy” and "How It’s Goin’ Down.”
DMX followed up with four straight chart-topping albums including "... And Then There Was X,” "Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood,” "The Great Depression” and "Grand Champ.” He released seven albums, earned three Grammy nominations and was named favorite rap/hip-hop artist at the 2000 American Music Awards.
DMX arrived on the rap scene around the same time as Jay-Z, Ja Rule and others who dominated the charts and emerged as platinum-selling acts. They were all part of rap crews, too: DMX fronted the Ruff Ryders collective, which helped launch the careers of Grammy winners Eve and Swizz Beatz, and relaunch The Lox, formerly signed to Bad Boy Records. Ruff Ryders had success on the charts and on radio with its "Ryde or Die” compilation albums.
Along with his musical career, DMX paved his way as an actor. He starred in the 1998 film "Belly” and appeared in 2000′s "Romeo Must Die” with Jet Li and Aaliyah. DMX and Aaliyah teamed up for "Come Back in One Piece” on the film’s soundtrack.
The rapper would later open Aaliyah’s tribute music video, "Miss You,” alongside her other friends and collaborators, including Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah, after Aaliyah’s 2001 death in a plane crash at age 22.
The rapper also starred in 2001′s "Exit Wounds” with Steven Seagal and 2003′s "Cradle 2 the Grave” with Li.
But while DMX made his mark as one of hip-hop’s most recognizable names for his rap artistry and as an actor, the rapper was personally stifled by his legal battles - he was repeatedly arrested and jailed within a decade - and drug addiction. His addiction first took hold at age 14 when smoked a marijuana cigarette that was laced with cocaine.
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