DMX is gone.

As shitty as these words are to write, as shitty as they surely are to read, it’s a reality that feels at once both impossible and inevitable.

Earl Simmons had been seeming to make strides in recent years, taking care of himself, right on down to an amusing – and soulful – appearance on Fresh Off the Boat.

Yet, even during his ‘worst’ years, there seemed to be a certain invincibility at play. Grim shenanigans at an airport? That was just X. Surely, there was nothing that could ever truly touch him.

At the same time, even looking beyond the monster on his back that was his addiction, his music itself has been looking death in the face since his debut.

“I’m gonna die anyway, I’ll be gone any day,” he mutters towards the end of “Let Me Fly”. There are some apparent parallels between his and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy’s fates; both untimely losses, albeit in very different circumstances, they both spent careers dealing in the absolute harshest of realities.

Hence, their bodies of work offer little reprieve to nestle within during loss. You certainly won’t find gentle assurances. What DMX does provide you with is just about as much honesty as the human heart can handle. He largely saw death as a release, and it’s impossible not to hope he’s found some measure of the peace that eluded him in life, now, at last.

He was a man who reached millions, a man who struggled with demons his entire life, and a man who has now left us. His songs speak on.

The tracks below say more than this writer could ever hope to. While there may indeed be little solace within DMX’s grim, all too real world, there’s still joy to be found in just how much conviction he found within his pain. After all, as many have noted, the man stands as the only rapper to have all five of his initial run of albums to debut atop the Billboard 100.

The playlist below features his own songs, a mix of the obvious and undersung features, and indeed songs on which he only offered a hook – it simply goes to show: even with a reduced presence, DMX’s was all consuming.