AP New York, Apr. 11 : DMX, the iconic hip-hop artist behind the songs “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here)” whose distinctively gruff voice and thoughtful messages in his rhymes made him one of rap’s biggest stars, has died, according to a family statement Friday. He was 50.
The Grammy-nominated performer died after suffering “catastrophic cardiac arrest,” according to a statement from the hospital in White Plains, New York, where he died. He was rushed there from his home April 2.
His family’s statement said DMX, whose birth name was Earl Simmons died with relatives by his side after several days on life support.
“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart, and we cherish the times we spent with him,” the family said, adding that his music “inspired countless fans across the world.”
DMX — who rapped with a trademark raspy delivery that was often paired with growls, barks and “What!” as an ad-lib — built a multiplatinum career in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but he also struggled with drug addiction and legal problems that repeatedly put him behind bars.
DMX made a splash in 1998 with his first studio album, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” which debuted as 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.
Fellow hip hop artists remembered him likewise, with Eve praising him as “one of the most special people I have ever met” and Nas calling him “Gods poet” in an Instagram post.
“What they thought was a battle ended up being a family reunion. Of 2 Doggs who loved everything about each other thank. U. X for loving me back. C u when I get there,” rapper Snoop Dogg, who faced off against DMX in a Verzuz battle last year, said in an Instagram post.
“Rest In Peace DMX, a true legend. It was truly my honor to work and get to know you,” actor Jet Li said on Twitter.
“Earl you had and still have a heart of gold. You and Baby Girl will meet again with all the beautiful people we have lost. Will never forget your kindness. NEVER! Blessing to your family! Eternally!” said Diane Haughton, the mother of the late singer Aaliyah, said on Instagram.
DMX also took the initiative to help the less fortunate. He gave a group of Philadelphia men advice during a surprise appearance at a homeless support group meeting in 2017, and helped a Maine family with its back-to-school purchases a couple years later.
“You can’t be a fan and not feel empathy for him in his journey,” hip-hop and electronic music producer Flying Lotus said in an interview while DMX was hospitalized this week. “You think of ‘Belly’ and all the great stuff that he was part of. But he was dealt such a weird hand, I think, with the drug stuff. And I just have empathy.”
Survivors include his 15 children and his mother.
“RIP DMX. I pray for the comfort of your children and loved ones,” actor Viola Davis said on Twitter.