DMX's Official Cause Of Death Finally Revealed

The following article includes details of drug abuse.

The official cause of rapper DMX's death has been determined, months after the Ruff Ryder died at age 50. DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, was hospitalized on April 2 after suffering from a heart attack. At the time, his family said he was in a vegetative state and told People, "We ask that you please keep Earl/DMX and us in your thoughts, wishes, and prayers." His manager Nakia Walker told BuzzFeed that the "Exit Wounds" star had "lung and brain failure and no brain activity," and that everyone was "just praying and waiting."

While DMX remained on life support, fans gathered outside of a New York hospital to hold a prayer vigil. But DMX never recovered, and on April 9, the hip-hop legend died. "We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50 years old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days," his family announced. They added, "Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end."

In May, his collaborator Swizz Beatz released DMX's last album, which was originally intended to be his comeback, according to New York Post. A memorial service was also held at Brooklyn's Barclays Center with performances and tributes to the late rapper. Yet now there's even more closure for fans with the release of his cause of death.

DMX died from a cocaine-induced heart attack

Months after legendary rapper DMX died, his official cause of death has been released. Vulture reports that a source from the Westchester County medical examiner's office revealed that the "Party Up (Up in Here)" rapper died from a cocaine-induced heart attack which caused a lack of blood circulation to his brain. The source explained, "It was cardiac arrest for a period of time, so there was no circulation to the brain," adding that acute cocaine intoxication was responsible for the "chain of events" that followed. While an autopsy wasn't performed, DMX's "urine showed the presence of cocaine," Vulture explained.

While prayer vigils were held for the rapper, it appears that it wasn't looking good for DMX from the beginning. Even though his heart was revived at one point, the source revealed to Vulture, "His death literally happened immediately because the brain was dead." They continued, "So obviously, there were a number of days where he was on ventilatory support and so forth in the hospital. However, he was diagnosed brain-dead early on ... He never woke up from [a] coma."

The rapper had been facing drug addiction for years after being introduced to drugs as a child. Of that experience, he said (via People), "A monster was born. I wouldn't do that to my worst enemy." While he clearly still managed to have a super successful career, it appears that drugs eventually led to his demise.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

DMX had a rough childhood

DMX had an impressive music career since he rose to fame in the 1990s, but the late rapper apparently had a hard life, which contributed to his problems with substance abuse. As a child, DMX says he was physically abused by his mother and his mother's partners. He once revealed (via the New York Post), "[My mother] beat two teeth out of my f**** mouth with a broom" when he was only 6-years-old. As for his father, DMX says, he "never called me on my birthday or helped raise me at all." According to People, the "Romeo Must Die" actor also suffered from severe bronchial asthma, which frequently landed him in the emergency room.

Yet, it appears that being introduced to drugs at only age 14 by someone who was "like an older brother" to him hurt the most. DMX explained, "I didn't smoke cigarettes, I didn't smoke weed. I didn't do anything, I was 14 years old ... I never felt like this before. I later found out that he laced the [cannabis] with crack." He continued, "Why would you do that [to] somebody who looks up to you?"

Throughout the years, the rapper was arrested multiple times and served time in jail. DMX also went to rehab several times, with the most recent being in 2019, shortly after he was released from prison on tax evasion charges. But despite his personal problems, DMX always had his music to turn to.

Music was DMX's outlet

It appears that DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, used music as an outlet to deal with his life's struggles. His former manager, Nakia Walker, explained to the Houston Press in 2011 (via the New York Post), "Earl is a person who still holds onto a lot of things he suffered in the past, as a child." She continued, "He holds onto things, instead of talking about things and releasing. He expresses himself through his music." The "Where the Hood At?" rapper's attorney Murray Richman echoed that, saying (via People), that while his client lived a "difficult life," "He expressed the pain and suffering in a very unique way. He truly is reflective of a whole segment of our society whose pain and suffering go unrecorded."

DMX's longtime collaborator Swizz Beatz says that recording his last album, "Exodus," had DMX in a good headspace right before his death. Swizz Beatz revealed to the New York Post, "He was in one of the best places I've seen him in years." 

While "Exodus" is DMX's posthumous album, it was intended to be part of his comeback. Swizz Beatz explained, "We had plans to do a two-month cleansing and workout [program] before we came with the album. He was gonna re-brand himself." Sadly, DMX never had a chance to follow through with that plan. But fans still have his music to remember him by.