DMX Was a Casualty in America’s War on Black Men
The legendary rapper was able to overcome a world that didn’t even see him as human.
The Black community sat in agony over the past week as we waited the official news of DMX’s health. We knew what was coming, but we also didn’t want to accept it. After the 50-year-old rapper reportedly suffered a heart attack from a suspected drug overdose, it was as if we crashed back to reality—a reality where even if you’ve made it, you’re still Black at the hands of a system that is not meant to work for you. Hell, a system that has been constructed to destroy you.
The rapper, whose legal name was Earl Simmons, had a jarring entrance on the hip-hop music scene. He appeared loud, barking, aggressive, and peppered his albums with Biblical references in what some would consider a blasphemous manner—which for conservative Black families is a big no-no. But still, if you actually listened to his music, you could feel the gentle nature of his being and the genius of his lyrical content. And if you really paid attention, you could hear the deep hurt in his voice—the emotional cries for stability and some sense of normalcy.
Born in 1970 to a young mother who’d already had two other children by the time she was 19, DMX did not grow up in the most functional household. He was estranged from his biological father, and his mother (and her boyfriends) would physically abuse him on the regular.