Rap star and actor who embodied the edgy and lawless life depicted in his work
The first rapper to have his first five albums go straight to the top of the US chart, DMX, who has died aged 50 following a heart attack, established himself as the premier exponent of hardcore rap in the aftermath of the violent deaths of the Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. He announced himself with his multi-platinum-selling debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998), a stormy survey of greed, violence, crime and betrayal, which also displayed his gift for blending light and heavy textures behind an intense, menacing presence at the microphone.
Before the end of that year DMX had released his second blockbuster, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, another huge seller. He was suddenly the new king of Planet Rap, yet when the 1999 Grammy award nominations came around he was nowhere to be seen. This omission prompted the rap superstar Jay-Z (who would win the best rap album Grammy that year) to boycott the awards ceremony “because too many major rap artists continue to be overlooked”, as he put it. “Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world.”