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Earl Simmons was bigger than Jay-Z. DMX took Def Jam to another level when he entered the scene. He dropped two albums in his first year, both of which went multi-platinum. This was unheard of in hip-hop at the time.

DMX smiles for the cameras


Prince Williams / WireImage

It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood took the world by storm. He followed those two projects with straight fire, becoming the first rapper to have their first five albums debut at #1.

DMX performs at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2001 at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, Florida.  8/20/01  Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect


Scott Gries / Getty Images

DMX came out the gate swinging, although some of his later projects missed the commercial train.

His first ten years in the game were monumental to hip-hop. Anyone that was aware of pop culture in the late ’90s into the 2000s understood the power of this poet’s pen.

But music wasn’t the only thing.

DMX also starred in multiple #1 movies, including Cradle 2 the Grave and Exit Wounds. That’s right. While having #1 albums DMX was also starring in movies that opened at the top spot.


Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

He was the pinnacle of hip-hop and acting success. A true GOAT and legend.

Let’s not get away from the music though.

Before this turns into a full-blown DMX tribute, let’s get back to what made this pan a legend in the first place. The strength of his pen.

Here is my list of the 21 most essential DMX songs:

Keep in mind, these are in no particular order.

1.

“Damien”


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“Why is it every move I make turns out to be a bad one? / Where’s my guardian angel? Need one, wish I had one.” The opening lines of “Damien” give us a peek into DMX’s soul. A man who felt like life gave him a bad hand, searching for God to end his pain. This song spawned a series of sequels, but the OG version is the best.

2.

“Party Up (Up In Here)”


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“Party Up (Up In Here)” is a classic DMX cut. This record will turn any party into a madhouse immediately. This was the type of energy that X brought to the game. We will miss it.

3.

“Slippin'”


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DMX always found moments of calm on his albums to really drive home the pain and anarchy of the world he was raised in. “Slippin'” is easily a top-five DMX track (although I promised I wouldn’t rank this list in order). This poet’s pain helped a lot of people through their own struggles.

4.

“4,3,2,1”


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Although this isn’t a DMX song, we would be remiss not to highlight the verse that shook the world. The ultimate scene-stealer, X proved his worth before his album dropped by holding his own alongside some of the most legendary lyricists to ever touch a mic.

5.

“Get It On The Floor”


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Leave it to DMX and Swizz to bring us another club hit. “Get It On The Floor” has a beat that will drive you wild, while X lays down his patented hard-hitting bars. The X and Swizz combo is a recipe for a banger.

6.

“X Gon’ Give It To Ya”


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“It’s what you’re hearing, listen!” The intro to this track will get ANYONE hype. How can you not bark madly to the royal trumpets and psycho energy of “X Gon Give It To Ya”? This is peak X right here.

7.

“We Right Here”


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A more “feel good” track from DMX, “We Right Here” is a melodic offering with chill vibes. The playful pianos on this beat always put me in a great mood.

8.

“What’s My Name”


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I’m 100% sure people have been thrown off roofs to this single. “What’s My Name” is one of the most aggressively fun X tracks ever created. Even Jay-Z had to stop by for a cameo in this video.

9.

“Who We Be”


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DMX paints a picture of the hood by using commercial appeal and mixing it with street antics on “Who We Be.” He was one of the few with this skill, and was probably the last REAL gangsta rapper on this earth.

10.

“Get At Me Dog”


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Is it even Summertime in New York until “Get At Me Dog” blares from the radio? There’s something about this single that just brings that 90s Summer in New York energy to life in the most accurate musical form.

11.

“Here We Go Again”


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DMX’s storytelling abilities are on full display here. “Here We Go Again” finds X grappling with his own decisions when it comes to mentorship, friendship, spirituality, and street life.

12.

“Money, Power, Respect”


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Once again, although this isn’t DMX’s song, I had to throw it on this list. “Money, Power, Respect” is a quintessential Ruff Ryders/New York/90s Hip Hop record. X takes the last verse and does what he does best: dominates.

13.

“Where The Hood At”


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DMX always put on for the hood. He never forgot his roots, and made sure that we didn’t forget them either. Yet another X and Swizz classic… this list is filled with them.

14.

“Good Girls, Bad Guys”


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Why do good girls like bad guys? The age-old question is tackled by DMX on this single. No philosophical conclusion comes from this track, but we do get to dance to another hit record.

15.

“What These Bitches Want”


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Classic. Sisqo was also at the top of his career around this time, and the duo of him and X was more than the game could handle. If you can’t name all the women in the second verse, are you even a REAL DMX fan? Don’t worry, I miss a couple of names myself. “ABOUT THREE KIMS, WHAT?!”

16.

“Stop Being Greedy”


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This beat still gives me chills. “Stop Being Greedy” was DMX’s second single from his debut album and it helped catapult him to multi-platinum status out the gate.

PS, this may be the best sample of “My Hero Is A Gun” EVER!

17.

“Blackout”


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The LOX and Jay-Z joined DMX for this street hit. At this point, Jay-Z was heating up, but DMX would be the one to reach superstardom faster. Listening to these GOATS in their youth is like looking into a time machine.

18.

“Money, Cash, Hoes”


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This is the last track on this list that isn’t DMX’s… I swear! Hailing from both Jay-Z’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life album and the soundtrack for the film The Corruptor, “Money, Cash, Hoes” was the perfect ratchet anthem. Jay ended up throwing Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel on the remix and in the music video (while cutting X out), which may have been one of the moves that started to push Jay and X away from each other and into competition for hip-hop dominance.

19.

“Grand Finale”


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DMX and Nas starred in Belly, considered one of the best hip-hop films of all time. “Grand Finale” was a single for that film, featuring Method Man and Ja Rule alongside X and Nas. Ahhh… much simpler times.

20.

“How It’s Going Down”


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DMX didn’t make love music often, but he did do it. “How It’s Going Down” stands out for showing the “softer” side of Earl Simmons. In my opinion, this song is severely underrated.

21.

“Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”


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Yeah, you knew this would be on the list. That’s why I saved it for last. Arguably the most famous song in X’s history, “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” was a single that lit the world on fire and propelled the Double R to hip-hop infamy.





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