When you think of hip-hop in the ‘90s, a few names immediately come to mind; Tupac and Biggie for example. But one of the greatest of all time to ever touch a mic is DMX. You don’t have to be a hip-hop head to recognize the booming voice that raps ”X gon’ give it to ya” and “Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind.” His sound was groundbreaking for hip-hop; he rapped with intense energy about his tough life experiences and in doing so, gave a voice to his community. He was the first artist to see commercial success with a hard-hitting style of rap and he paved the way for others to succeed with a similar sound. He walked so 2000s legends like 50 Cent could run. Even today’s biggest artists are influenced by DMX—one of Drake’s producers credits him for inspiring Drizzy’s early music.
His success also built the foundation of Ruff Ryders, a collective that managed him and launched the careers of other notable artists like Swizz Beatz and Jadakiss. It’s been over 20 years since his debut, but DMX’s influence on hip-hop endures.
We did a deep dive into DMX’s career and found some accolades that you may not know—from the origin of his stage name to the year he broke records with two multi-platinum albums.
Five #1 Albums
DMX’s debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot hit the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 charts in 1998. He released his sophomore album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, that same year, which reached the same success. DMX’s next three studio albums …And Then There Was X, The Great Depression, and Grand Champ dominated the charts and continued his streak of #1 albums—five in a row. He was the first rapper to accomplish this and it’s a flex that many artists only dream of achieving.
DMX’s debut and sophomore albums didn’t just win the top spot on Billboard, they went multi-platinum. Breaking yet another record, this made him the first rapper to have two #1 and multi-platinum albums within the same calendar year. Real GOAT shit. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot went multi-platinum and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood went triple platinum.
Origin of “DMX”
If you’re going by common perception, you might be under the impression that DMX comes from the abbreviation for “Dark Man X.” But that’s actually not the case. His moniker was inspired by the Oberheim DMX digital drum machine, commonly used to make hip-hop beats.
Box Office Star
Throughout his career, DMX traded his lyrics for a script, starring in multiple box-office hits. In 1998, he made his big-screen debut in the movie Belly alongside Nas and Method Man. He went on to star in Romeo Must Die with Aaliyah and Jet Li, and Cradle 2 The Grave a few years later.
How DMX Got Signed
DMX had been making music for almost a decade before he saw commercial success with Def Jam records. Ivr Gotti, an A&R executive at Def Jam, wanted to sign DMX as soon as Gotti was hired at the label, but the higher-ups didn’t agree. It was only when the president of Def Jam, Lyor Cohen, went to see DMX in the studio that he started to understand why Gotti was pushing for him. At the time, DMX’s jaw was wired shut from a physical altercation but he didn’t let that stop him from spitting bars. Once Cohen saw the raw talent, determination, and grit that DMX embodied, he signed him on the spot. The rest is history.
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