By Michael Alberto
Assistant Freeform Editor

Rapper and artist Earl Simmons, who took on the name “Dark Man X” (DMX), passed away on April 9 He was 50. His legacy will continue as his mixture of hip hop and raw emotional lyrics elevated Simmons, and he became one of the most mystifying and legendary hip hop artists

Simmons debut album, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” brought him critical acclaim as over 250,000 copies were sold in the first week of release. His music not only began to become wildly successful, but it helped to shift the course of hip hop as a genre because of his raw and unapologetic lyrics. 

During this time, rapping about luxury and glamorous lifestyles was the mainstream. The grittiness and honesty of Simmons’s music came as a shock, but it was one that helped to introduce this type of hip hop into the public space unlike ever before.

As a child, Simmons suffered from abuse and severe asthma attacks. He additionally suffered from homelessness and trauma in general. 

As he grew into adulthood, he juxtaposed both his struggles growing up and his mental health struggles into the music he was producing. While he was not the first artist to do so, Simmons’s execution of the two brought these issues and the genre to the mainstream and widely popularized it. 

This popularization of storytelling hip hop allowed for future artists to relay their own stories, just as Simmons did decades before.

DMX’s legacy demonstrates the real struggles of an artist and helped to bring these issues into the mainstream hip hop scene. 

Simmons’s music resonates with millions today, and his work paved the way for countless artists to follow. His defiant and emotionally raw portrayal of his life and mental health struggles woven into his music inspired not only the multitude of artists to follow but the millions of fans and listeners that were able to relate to him because of his music.

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