The late Yonkers rapper DMX was a true legend and a fantastic performer. As well as selling out his own shows worldwide, the musician (real name Earl Simmons) was able to shut down any event and once even performed a jaw-dropping live set at Woodstock in 1999.
Like many iconic figures of hip-hop, DMX began rapping in the early 1990s before establishing himself as a leading figure of the growing genre when he released his debut album, It’s Dark, and Hell Is Hot, in 1998. The record propelled DMX to critical and commercial acclaim, selling no fewer than 251,000 copies within its first week of release, in turn etching his name into the annals of hip-hop history in the process. From that moment on, DMX didn’t look back, forging a new path for hip-hop alongside his contemporaries. The rapper released eight studio albums, the most recent coming in the shape of the 2015 effort Redemption of the Beast.
The rapper had a special ability to radiate emotion and pain through his style in a way that few others have managed in hip-hop, especially considering his aggressive style. When DMX was on the mic, you believed every single word on the track. Simmons made anthems with ease, and with tracks such as ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ and ‘Where the Hood At?’ at the ready, he could make any stage his own.
He most certainly did that at Woodstock ’99. The event, which was a tribute to the original and culture-shifting Woodstock festival of 1969, was a Rock-orientated affair. However, this was fine for DMX, who knew he could win over any crowd regardless of their taste in music. Simmons gave an unparalleled performance, and even diehard rock fans seemed to appreciate his unwavering energy and charisma. The rapper was known for his aggressive style and provocative lyrics, and this most definitely was the common thread that allowed Simmons to have metalheads enjoying rap music.
It is common knowledge and well-documented that Simmons took great pride in the quality of his live shows. One individual with excellent knowledge of DMX’s passion is Jim Jones of Harlem’s The Diplomats. in an interview with the online magazine HiphopDX, Jones spoke about Simmons and the amount of energy he expended for his ticket-paying fans.
As someone privileged enough to tour alongside the late rapper, Jones went into great detail, explaining, “I remember being on tour with DMX when we first went out on tour with Cam’Ron, and watching DMX perform was so crazy because he would come out and do 60, 90 minutes set.” The rapper continued to disclose how, after his energetic extravaganzas, Simmons would “collapse about to have an asthma attack. Every night it would happen. And he had crazy asthma.”
With Simmons even willing to risk his health to ensure his fans get what they pay for, there is no denying that DMX was the definition of a dedicated performer. At Woodstock ’99, which was held in Rome, New York, DMX wowed the crowd by performing, among other tracks, ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ and ‘Slipping’. You can watch the unforgettable performance in the video below.