It is undeniable that DMX’s live performances were electrifying. His energy, stage presence, and dynamism were unparalleled; many rappers around the emcee (real name Earl Simmons) during his prime have testified to this.
The late Yonkers artist was a true legend and a fantastic performer. As well as selling out his own shows worldwide, the musician was able to shut down any event and once even performed a jaw-dropping live set at Woodstock in 1999. However, one of his most legendary performances was at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theatre.
Located on 125th Street in the Harlem neighbourhood of Upper Manhattan, the Apollo Theatre is a well-known bastion of African-American culture and has had some of the most prestigious musicians in the world grace its stage. From Duke Ellington to Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Otis reading, it has a rich history, and DMX is part of it.
When DMX first entered the mainstream in the late-90s, he was an unstoppable force. His hoarse voice, aggression and explosive attitude was an East Coast middle finger to the laidback G-funk that had dominated hip-hop during the decade. He instantly had the whole of New York behind him and grew more potent.
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 and in 1998, he captivated the Apollo’s audience and sent the place crazy.
Earlier this year, in honour of the late Yonkers rhymer, his close friend and primary producer Swizz Beatz (real name Kasseem Dean) entered the vault to collect some rare footage of DMX’s first Apollo performance 25 years ago.
Taking to Instagram to post a snippet, Dean wrote, “DMX Apollo zone! This was our 1st time on that stage. It was magical! I was X DJ and producer at that time. We made magic that will never be forgotten! Long live my brother @dmx. I still cry when I hear ‘Stop Drop’ real talk.”
The Apollo performance in New York was the final stop on Simmons’ 1998 Survival of the Illest Tour, following the release of his chart-topping debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. In an interview with The Ringer, the man behind the camera at the show, Rick Mordecon, described the show as “the most cohesive, beautiful, emotional experience. I was crying by the end of that concert.”
You can watch the video of DMX’s Apollo Theater show in the clip below.