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The Death of DMX

The Death of DMX: A Tormented Soul and Far from a Hero

If you research the life and death of Earl Simmons, the music artist professionally known as DMX, you’ll likely find a wide variety of resources. Some results might include news reports about his untimely death on April 9, 2021, at just 50 years old. Others might be articles calling him a hero in the rap industry or crediting his poetry and lyrics for helping generations of people through difficult times in their lives.

However, it’s hard to look past the reckless lifestyle he led. Or the fact that he died from “catastrophic cardiac arrest” due to an apparent drug overdose, which he knew was a definite possibility. He almost overdosed once before, and he often wrote about his addiction in his lyrics. So, perhaps we should be talking about that instead? And maybe we should stop calling criminals and drug addicts heroes?

“Like damn look how that rock got him…”

It’s no secret that DMX struggled with drug addiction for most of his life. Or that he spent time in juvenile detention, jail, and prison off and on for the better part of thirty years. But what some people don’t know is that DMX also had severe asthma as a child, then depression, and bipolar disorder as an adult. He smoked what he thought was just marijuana with a mentor and became addicted to crack cocaine as a teenager.

DMX’s physical and mental health issues became a deadly combination when coupled with his lifelong drug addiction. He canceled several shows and went to rehab at least three times but never conquered his demons. Eventually, he sought refuge in rap music and started focusing more on his art than crime. But as a career criminal with a reputation to uphold, it wasn’t long before he hit rock bottom and “that rock got him.” 

“I show no love, to homo thugs…”

Many social media followers call DMX a legend, an icon, and a dynamic influencer in the rap industry, and maybe all that is true. He was musically talented, due to hard-hitting, controversial, and in-your-face lyrics in the late 1990s. But if we listen to his music—I mean, really listen to it—he was far from being anybody’s hero. 

The truth is that DMX enjoyed being a criminal. He wrote about crime, almost like it inspired him, and in some interviews, he even called being in jail his playground. 

DMX was also blatantly homophobic, a womanizer, and a dead-beat dad who chose to write the lyrics: “I show no love, to homo thugs.” And he even tattooed the Bible verse Exodus 1:7 on his neck almost as permission to father fifteen children, which he would never take care of financially. Instead, he left this world and his children with a net worth of negative one million dollars. 

“What good is it for a man to gain the world, yet lose his own soul in the process?”

Maybe it’s true that DMX was a legend of sorts, but certainly not in a good way. He wrote lyrics and messages meant to resonate with criminals and drug addicts. And during interviews with Dr. Phil, he talked about becoming a preacher but never once tried to inspire his most devoted fans to make better life choices. Why would he? He had a reputation for being a badass, not some compassionate, teary-eyed angel who cared more about his fellow man than becoming an influencer.

No doubt, DMX put his heart and soul into his music. But what did his lyrics and reckless lifestyle teach the younger generations? And what about all the recent articles calling him a hero? What do they teach other aspiring music artists about the reality of the music industry? That it’s O.K. to live a life of crime and addiction to all kinds of things as long as you find God and repent your sins through music? Damn, I hope not.

"I put you here to do a job, and your work ain't done
To live is to suffer, but you're still my son
And there will be a time when you shine as bright as the stars
But there won't be a, his or hers, just ours

Then you'll see what I've been tryin to show you, all these years
Do the right thing; cause after the tears, come the cheers

I will, my Lord, with my heart, and my soul
That's gonna be how I roll, from now until I'm old
Lead and I'll follow, you take away the sorrow
I'm a sleep on what you said and holla back tomorrow..."

~ DMX, featuring Regina Bell in the song "Angel"

Final Thoughts: Did DMX Write Music as a Cry for Help?

DMX took on a different personality to pursue his music career. On one side, he was Earl Simmons, a god-fearing man, and father who loved his children. A man who wanted to do better and tried but never fulfilled his goal of sobriety. Then, on the other side, he was DMX, the Dark Man X, with a tragic past full of abuse, crime, and addiction. He was full of regret and maintained a victim mentality through his music instead of learning how to forgive himself and move onto a healthier life.

As mentioned before, the artist DMX wanted to be an influencer. He wanted to inspire people, not just in music but also as a preacher. Or whichever path he thought might give him a better foundation in life and a bigger following in his music career.

But spirituality doesn’t work like that, and neither does religion. Sometimes we have to give up to gain, ask for help, and retrain our minds to live without things we once loved the most.

Unfortunately, DMX never asked for help with his behavioral health issues. He was institutionalized once, involuntarily. But as far as I can tell, he never tried any medications. Why? Was he too embarrassed to admit he had a problem? Or just too proud to ask for help?

DMX: A Sagittarius, Know-it-all, and Lover of Attention

Earl Simmons was born on December 18, 1970. He was a Sagittarius and a fire sign with a highly motivated spirit.

When DMX became famous, he already had several untreated mental health problems, so living the lifestyle helped intensify his addictive personality. And as with many fiery Sagittarius spirits, he had a hard time asking for help. He grew up on the streets and thought he knew how to take care of himself, but he never understood the importance of having good mental health.

As the rap artist, I think Earl loved being the center of attention. He loved the publicity, the money, and the fame of his successful music career. But frankly, he couldn’t handle all the pressure. He proved that by setting the wrong priorities in life, choosing to self-medicate with drugs, and by not learning to manage his money better.

I also think Earl wanted to get clean for good, but he didn’t want to give up his music career. Dark Man X allowed him to adopt a victim mentality through his lyrics and feed his fiery ego. So, he kept self-sabotaging because deep down, he believed he was already too far gone to save.

If DMX were still around today, I would shake his hand, but not for being a hero. I would call him a martyr because although he lived his life out loud, he died for all the wrong reasons. He died in pain and regret and without truly knowing the redeeming power of self-love.

Like many music artists, DMX died as a character, the Dark Man X, and not as Earl Simmons. If people insist on calling him a hero, a legend, or an icon, I hope they realize who he was behind the mask. He was a tormented man, but if his life and death have taught us anything, it’s why we need to start taking behavioral health issues more seriously.