American rapper and actor Earl Simmons, better known by his stage name DMX has died, according to a statement on Friday from his family, after suffering a heart attack during what media reports said was a drug overdose.
He was 50 years old.
“We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50 years old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days,” his family wrote in a statement quoted by People magazine.
“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, and his iconic legacy will live on forever.”
DMX collapsed at home, his family had said and was taken to a New York hospital where his former manager said he had been placed on life support with no brain activity.
The family said information on a memorial service was forthcoming.
The Grammy-nominated performer had chart-topping songs including “Party Up (Up in Here)” and “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.”
DMX earned more than 40 film and television credits, including “Belly,” “Romeo Must Die,” and action films “Cradle 2 the Grave” and “Exit Wounds,” also contributing music to their soundtracks.
He built a multi-platinum career as one of rap’s stars in the 1990s and early 2000s, but he also struggled with drug addiction and legal problems that repeatedly put him behind bars.
Raised in the New York suburb of Yonkers, the artist endured a grim childhood, growing up in the projects with his mother and siblings where he suffered abuse.
At 14, he entered a cycle of incarceration that would persist throughout his life, committing robberies that regularly landed him in jail.
Even after he achieved celebrity for his artistry, DMX continued to have run-ins with the penal system, with charges including drug possession, animal cruelty, reckless driving, failure to pay child support, and tax evasion.
But while his colorful criminal record made headlines, it was his blunt, confessional raps delivered with his singular deep-throated growls that left an indelible mark on hip-hop’s sound in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“DMX was a brilliant artist and an inspiration to millions around the world. His message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity,” said Def Jam Recordings, the label with whom DMX released some of his most iconic albums, a statement following his death.
“DMX was nothing less than a giant. His legend will live on forever.”
DMX is survived by his 15 children and his mother.
(With input from agencies)