Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Champ In The Arena: R.I.P. DMX, who gave sports the best hype music in hip-hop history

RIP DMX
RIP DMX
Image: AP

There are a minimal amount of true one-of-ones this planet has ever produced, and DMX is on that short list.

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The hip-hop icon and legendary poet passed away today at the age of 50 of a heart attack. DMX’s recoding label Def Jam issued a statement on his passing.

Def Jam Recordings and the extended Def Jam family of artists, executives and employees are deeply and profoundly saddened by the loss of our brother Earl “DMX” Simmons. DMX was a brilliant artist and an inspiration to millions around the world. His message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him and were touched by him. DMX was nothing less than a giant. His legend will live on forever.

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Arena-friendly music, in terms of sound, exploded into a crucial element of hip-hop during the 1990s, at which DMX became the center of throughout his storied career. Embarking on a solo hip-hop career during the 1990s, DMX became the first hip-hop artist to debut with two Billboard No. 1 (of the overall top-200) albums in the same year, with It’s Dark and Hell is Hot in May of 1998, then Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood that December. Not only that, but DMX became the first hip-hop artist to debut with five consecutive Billboard No. 1 albums, a run that lasted through 2003, all of which are at least one-time platinum. And a large portion of his allure was simply this: With a distinctly intense bravado that naturally gravitated toward competition, DMX’s music made you want to overcome any obstacle in your life.

If you had a game to play, a big exam, a job interview, an event, your graduation, or any significant moment of your life, chances are, you might’ve played a DMX record beforehand.

Respectfully, there is no one — not Nas, not Jay-Z, not Snoop Dogg, not Outkast, not 50 Cent, not Eminem, not anyone — who produced more effective hype songs in the history of the genre than DMX. No, that doesn’t mean he’s the best hip-hop artist ever, but it indicates that he’s the best at what he specifically did. Possibly, the most notable example of this has been Brooklyn-born boxing legend Mike Tyson, a fellow New Yorker to the late Yonkers native, who came out to What’s My Name? before his infamous 2002-bout with rival Lennox Lewis, something HBO’s Jim Lampley said sounded like, “An assault on normal standards of decency.” Current arguable pound-for-pound No. 1 boxer Terence Crawford typically uses What’s My Name? as at least part of his intro as well.

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Before a 1999-bout with Frans Botha, Tyson’s first since suffering a suspension due to the Evander Holyfield ear-biting incident of 1997, Iron Mike returned with the Intro to It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, for one of the most bone-chilling entrances ever. (He won by a fifth-round knockout.)

Chuck Liddell had undergone a two-fight losing streak prior to UFC 79 in 2007 and used that same intro to power him to a win over Wanderlei Silva in what became UFC’s Fight of the Year and Liddell’s final victory.

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And there are an endless amount of other songs you’ve at least heard the instrumental of while at a sporting event, if not the actual song during a highlight or as part of a soundtrack.

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  • Party Up (In Here)
  • X Gon’ Give It To Ya
  • Where The Hood At
  • Ruff Ryders Anthem
  • We Right Here
  • We In Here (Ft. Swizz Beatz)
  • Stop Being Greedy
  • Get At Me Dog
  • Who We Be
  • I Don’t Dance (Ft. MGK)
  • Get It On The Floor (Ft. Swizz Beatz)
  • 4, 3, 2, 1 (with LL Cool J, Method Man, Redman, and Canibus)
  • Money, Cash, Hoes (With Jay-Z)
  • Ain’t No Sunshine

And, honestly, the list could continue for a while longer, but you get the point.

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Now, he wasn’t perfect, but we’re all pretty fucked up, aren’t we? On the mic, very few were more impactful across any genre of music. He was the ultimate battery in your back, but he would also sit you down and drop knowledge, letting you know you’re far from alone in your daily struggles.

In the arena, he was a bonafide one-of-one. And in his arena, nobody did that better. Let us all strive to be a fraction as impactful DMX was to hip-hop, music culture, and many of us.

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Rest in peace, Earl.