The Real Reason DMX Barked In His Music

In his lifetime, DMX cemented himself as one of music‘s best rappers. Known for his unique rhyme skills and hit-making ability, he burst on the scene in the late ’90s and went on to release a string of hits, including “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up.” A big part of his shtick was barking like a dog, but it turns out it was deeper than a gimmick.

Rapper DMX performing at event in Chicago
Rapper DMX performing at event in Chicago | Streeter Lecka/BIG3/Getty Images

The reason DMX barked in his music dates back to his early life

Raised in Yonkers, New York, DMX — real name Earl Simmons — experienced a turbulent upbringing. He claimed his dad was absent and that his mom was abusive, which resulted in him shuffling in and out of group homes.

Okayplayer reports that as a teenager, he would roam the streets, where he’d befriend stray dogs. DMX said on rapper Noreaga’s Drink Champs podcast that he found unconditional love in them and eventually grew to like dogs more than people.

“If people were like dogs, the world would be a much better place,” he once told The Los Angeles Times. “Dogs only want to eat. They don’t want their food and their territory invaded. Other than that, they leave you alone. That’s life. Eat, sleep, do what you’ve got to do.”

He continued, “Your dog will die for you. You can beat your dog and your dog will see you in a predicament where you’re about to lose your life and your dog will be right there for you. That’s how dogs get down, unconditional love. Humans are not really capable of unconditional love.”

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Dog sounds became one of his trademarks

Once he got older and started to rap, he incorporated different dog sounds into his music, using barking and growling to intimidate other rappers, per Okayplayer.

DMX would eventually ink a deal with Ruffhouse Records, from which he was later dropped (via NME). After appearing on popular songs such as Mase’s “24 Hrs. to Live”, DMX found a new home at Def Jam in the late ’90s. Under the label, he released his first five albums — all of which went No. 1 on the Billboard 200, setting a new record in music.

RELATED: DMX Had Major Issues With the Music Industry

DMX capitalized on his success by appearing in different movies, including 1998’s Belly, 2000’s Romeo Must Die, and 2003’s Cradle 2 the Grave. He also continued to put out music. However, his career stalled amid legal woes and personal challenges. His most recent album is 2012’s Undisputed, which received mixed reviews.

But DMX was working on music at the time of his death

By 2021, DMX was ready for a comeback. He told Noreaga he had been working on a new album with features from Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and the late Pop Smoke, among others. But he died before its release.

Despite that, AllHipHop alleges the album is finished and set to arrive in the summer of 2021. Showbiz Cheat Sheet cannot confirm that information, but either way, DMX’s music will forever be etched into entertainment history.