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US rapper and actor DMX dies of massive heart attack aged 50

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The iconic US rapper DMX died on Friday at the age of 50, five days after suffering a heart attack.

The performer's real name was Earl Simmons.

His hits included songs like "Party Up" and "X Gon' Give it to ya."

The hip-hop performer also collaborated with artists such as JAY-Z, Ja Rule and LL Cool J.

Mourners gathered outside the New York hospital where he died, paying tribute with candles and his tunes.

"DMX is a legend and we've lost a legend in hip hop. It's sad. So I'm out here – I was out here to support on my way down from Connecticut and I got the news that he had passed," said fan Al Mayo.

DMX chronicled the struggles of the American street and his own inner pain in his music.

He struggled with drug addiction and was arrested on numerous occasions.

He laid out his inner demons for the masses in gritty, hard-driving anthems with a distinctive poetic rawness that gained him commercial and critical acclaim.

Raised in the New York suburb of Yonkers, the artist endured a grim childhood, growing up in housing projects with his mother and siblings where he suffered abuse.

"I grew up with his music. He's important to me because he represents Westchester. He represents 914 [Westchester County area code, ed]. Again, like I said, I grew up on his music, so again I'm just here to show respect and have some sort of closure," said fan Yvonne Taylor.

"Rawest rapper of all-time"

Though he achieved celebrity for his artistry, DMX continued to have run-ins with the penal system, with charges including drug possession, animal cruelty, reckless driving, failure to pay child support and tax evasion.

But while his criminal record made headlines, it was his blunt, confessional raps delivered with his singular deep-throated growls that left an indelible mark on hip-hop's sound and gained him legions of fans.

"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," said Def Jam Recordings, the label with which DMX released some of his most iconic albums, in a statement following his death.

"DMX was nothing less than a giant."

Tributes poured in Friday from fans and fellow artists. T.I. called DMX a "cultural icon," as Missy Elliott dubbed the loss "heavy for the HipHop family."

"I hate this but I'm at peace with it because you are finally at peace King," wrote Busta Rhymes.

"No one radiated more agony, pain, and atomic energy," tweeted rapper Biz Markie. "Maybe the rawest rapper of all-time, no pretense or frills, just pure adrenaline, lawless genius, and reckless abandon."

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