DMX’s impact on music is unlike any other rap artist. His songs are so relatable to his fans due to his honesty and raw emotion. His fearlessness led to him solidifying himself as the first and only rap artist to have five consecutive number one albums.
DMX’s first five albums debuted at No. 1
X’s raspy voice, creative storytelling, and vulnerability resonated with hip hop lovers. His debut, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, was released in 1998, at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200. The album is widely considered a classic among fans and critics for switching the narrative in hip hop from glitz and glamour back to raw and street.
TIME notes, “By abrasively challenging the slickness of rap’s assimilation into the mainstream, DMX had unwittingly become one of the biggest rappers in the world.”
His sophomore album was released just months later with an executive of his label, Def Jam, promising X and his Ruff Ryders crew $1 million if they topped the charts again. Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood did just that, making X the first rapper to have his debut and sophomore albums debut at No. 1 in the same year.
X’s next three albums, And Then There Was X, The Great Depression, and Grand Champ also made the top spot on the chart. All five albums debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 makes X the first and only rapper to achieve such a feat.
The streak ended with the release of his sixth studio album. At the time, his colleague and rival, Jay-Z, was the new president of Def Jam. X always believed that his projects were shelved due to Jay viewing him as competition.
He asked Jay to be released from his contract and signed to Sony where he released the sixth album, Year of the Dog. Though it didn’t make take the number one spot, the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. It did take the No. 1 on the Rap Charts, with 125,000 copies sold.
The late-rapper also had a prolific acting career
Music wasn’t X’s only form of storytelling. His transition to acting proved that he was a true renaissance artist. He made his debut in the 1998 hip hop classic Belly, which his producer Irv Gotti begged the director, Hype Williams, to put X in.
More success followed. He starred in Romeo Must Die in 2000 alongside Aaliyah and Jet Li. Producer Joel Silver signed X to a three-film deal worth $15 million because he was so impressed, calling X a natural. X was so good that producers let him improv often.
He appeared in Silver’s other films Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave in 2001 and 2003, respectfully. Unfortunately, X’s addiction issues got in the way of him getting to set on time and making appearances to promote the projects. His work with Silver ended as a result. But, he continued getting roles, including Never Die Alone in 2004.
He made several television appearances, including season 1 of the UPN sitcom Eve. He appeared in his final film, Chronicle of a Serial Killer, in 2020.