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

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP, AFP
Fans pay tribute to deceased rapper DMX
Fans pay tribute to deceased rapper DMX   -  Copyright  AP Photo

The US rapper and actor DMX has died aged fifty after suffering what the hospital said was a "catastrophic cardiac arrest."

The iconic hip-hop artist was the distinctive voice behind hits such as 'Ruff Ryders', 'Anthem' and 'Party Up.'

His family's statement said DMX, whose birth name was Earl Simmons, died with relatives by his side after several days on life support.

The Grammy-winning rapper passed away at a clinic in White Plains in New York State where he was born.

Many fans have been paying tributes to the hip hop artists, including Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton who described himself as "devastated" by the news.

"I grew up listening to him, his words and stories got me through difficult times as a kid and I'm so grateful for his wisdom and light," he wrote on Twitter.

"I grew up with his music. He's important to me because he represents Westchester," said another fan. "He represents 914 (Westchester County area phone code). 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."

Along with his musical career, DMX worked as an actor.

He starred in the 1998 film '``Belly' and appeared in the 2000 movie ``"Romeo Must Die'' with Jet Li and Aaliyah. DMX and Aaliyah teamed up for ``'Come Back in One Piece' on the film's soundtrack.

Troubled life

But while DMX made his mark as one of hip-hop's most recognisable names for his rap artistry and as an actor, the rapper was personally stifled by his legal battles.

He was repeatedly arrested and jailed and suffered from drug addiction. His addiction first took hold at age 14 when he smoked a marijuana cigarette that was laced with cocaine.

His family said DMX was a warrior who fought till the very end, adding that his music had inspired countless fans across the world and that his legacy will live on forever.