For the past few months, the hip-hop community has mourned the loss of one of the genre’s most prolific icons, the incomparable DMX. Born Earl Simmons, the Yonkers native blazed a massive trail at the intersection of hip-hop and culture. His art was a mixed Molotov cocktail of jagged edges and solemn insights into faith and morality. This radical duality was unprecedented in rap and served as the driving force behind his tenacious musical style.

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The influence of DMX is tangibly felt through the music he leaves behind, though it often overshadows his legacy as a movie performer. His sheer magnetism translated well on the big screen, and despite his lack of praise, many of his films are fondly remembered as funny crime thrillers. Not all have aged particularly well, but each role explored the many specters of his enigmatic personality.

10 Best: Romeo Must Die (2000)

Sil and Trish hugging and looking at the camera

Still enjoying the glow of Matrix, great producer Joel Silver returned to martial arts the following year with Romeo must die starring Jet Li and Aaliyah. Loosely interpreted as ‘SHakespeare meets kung-fu ‘, this modern take on the eternal story of forbidden love combines a choreography of kinetic stunts with a forceful racial conflict.

DMX portrays Silk, a respected nightclub owner in Oakland, California. His scene-stealing intro to the film’s opening fight scene sets Silk’s intensity, with a machine gun monologue delivered like a prophetic sermon. Although Silk’s powerful presence is used sparingly, each of her scenes is distinguished by X’s uncanny ability to invoke fear and respect in equal measure.

9 Unheard of: Lords of the Street (2008)

Lords of the Street poster with Vogler and Raymond holding guns behind them

Is looking for blood in Lords of the street, a 2008 action thriller starring Sheldon Robins and Kris Kristofferson. The film follows two police officers in pursuit of a cartel kingpin through the dark belly of New Orleans. DMX stands out as the film’s centerpiece despite its goofy narrative, cheesy dialogue, and straight-to-video pitch strategy.

The rapper plays Thorn, a soft-spoken hit man who vows to avenge his sister’s death at the hands of the Mexican cartel. His rigid principles echo the shadows of Omar in The wire, with the habit of quoting Scripture before ticking someone’s watch, like Jules de Pulp fiction. Although his role is somewhat minimal, his commanding screen presence weighs like the shark in Jaws-Sometimes, less is more.

8 Best: Exit Wounds (2001)

Orin and Latrell look at each other with serious expressions.

Along with mythical action star Steven Seagal, DMX co-headlines their biggest budget feature Exit wounds, a poignant compilation of shots and broken limbs. The revolving premise follows a belligerent detective and a powerful crime lord teaming up to foil a deadly conspiracy in the heart of Detroit’s toughest district.

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Featuring a surprisingly deep bank of co-stars like Michael Jai White, Eva Mendes, Bill Duke, and Anthony Anderson, Exit wounds is a fairly formulated crime story that lovingly captures the carefree fun of pre-9/11 action movies. This derivative noir model helped solidify X’s legacy as a generational archetype in the crime film genre.

7 Unheard of: Fast and Fierce: Death Race (2020)

Davie sitting and looking at someone

As the old adage goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When it comes to knockoffs, no one does it like The Asylum, a production company that makes direct video copies of well-known blockbuster franchises. Fast and Fierce: Death Race it’s your makeshift Fast and Furious film featuring DMX as a villain figure named Davie.

While it retains almost no redeeming qualities compared to a Fast and Furious film, there is a distinct self-fulfillment in all of The Asylum’s work. His tongue-in-cheek commitment to off-brand entertainment is clearly brash, perhaps best exemplified by his notorious cult hit. Sharknado. In this sense, the comically harsh behavior of DMX was perfectly suited to Fast and fiercenerve without complexes.

6 Best: Never Die Alone (2004)

King David on a bed, staring into the distance

Ernest Dickerson’s daring urban neo-noir Never die alone is a character-driven crime thriller with the tension of a powder keg. The narrative follows Paul (David Arquette), a writer who struggles to piece together the circumstances surrounding the death of notorious drug lord King David (DMX) after their chance encounter.

Sharing similarity with the epilogue of The godfather iii, his central themes are meditations on loneliness, regret, and the ultimate consequences of life as a villain. Even if Never die alone hampered by some seriously problematic writing, X reaches his performative peak as the morally conflicted King David. The role evokes a deeper complexity in him that reflects the philosophical breadth of his music.

5 Unheard of: The Bleeding (2009)

Tagg pointing a gun at someone

The wildest acting adventure of DMX’s career features him and his company taking on a legion of vampires in the aptly named The bleeding. This direct-to-video grindhouse mashup co-stars Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen. What it lacks in logic, it more than makes up for in comic absurdity.

Brash, campy and guns on fire, The bleeding it’s as rampant as a bat out of hell. It radiates with high voltage energy like From dusk to dawn in bath salts, but despite the eccentricity of his overall execution, his devotion to gonzo seriousness is what ultimately stands out. Regardless, the brutal intensity of DMX feels justified by its stupid premise.

4 Best: Cradle 2 The Grave (2003)

Anthony looking at someone and Su looking at Anthony

Cradle 2 The grave it is Among the action movie circle better known for its soundtrack than its overall premise. The second on-screen pairing between rapper and martial arts sensation Jet Li follows Anthony Fait (DMX), a jewel thief who teams up with a Taiwanese intelligence agent to rescue Fait’s kidnapped daughter from an ex- Rebel agent (Mark Dacascos).

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Despite some minor racial stereotypes, Cradle 2 The grave It is an extremely fun action movie that does not use any brain function to enjoy it. His iconic soundtrack featuring the certified DMX platinum hit “X Gon ‘Give It To Ya” sets the deafening tone as Fait cruises Los Angeles on an ATV.

3 Unheard: Top Five (2014)

DMX in jail in his cameo in Top Five

In general fan circles, it’s not often that Chris Rock Top five he is raised with the kind of appreciation he so deserves. This star-studded comedy follows Andre Allen (Chris Rock), a struggling funny man whose fateful interview with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to reassess his career and life choices.

Filled with illustrious cameos like Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, and Leslie Jones, Top fiveThe most surprising appearance is that DMX reproduces an exaggerated version of itself. Their unexpected walk finds Andre face to face with the rapper during a night in jail. His brief but outrageous appearance displays a supreme level of self-awareness and comic expression that no one could have expected from such a famous and stoic figure.

two Best: Belly (1998)

Buns wearing a suit and looking at something

Consciously indebted to Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus good friendsHype Williams, Late 90s Police Thriller Belly it was a socially significant moment that consolidated the continuous intersection between hip-hop and mainstream cultures. Co-starring legendary DMX rap luminaries Nas and Method Man, the film is a striking exploration of the moral costs of criminal aspiration.

Having directed only music videos before, Hype Williams’ keen eye for art direction seemed to glamorize a lawless lifestyle in Bellysurface of. But as same as good friends, his description of the reckoning establishes the film’s deeper meaning as a warning. Tommy “Buns” Bundy’s solid DMX rendition was an outstanding debut performance that coincided with the release of his acclaimed first album that same year.

1 Unheard: Pimp (2018)

Wednesday shows Midnight John something on his phone

Cool, Produced by Lee Daniels and starring Keke Palmer, it is a laborious fusion of hues of social drama and blaxploitation that don’t come to fruition, despite some flawless performances. The sordid premise follows Wednesday (Palmer), a Bronx pimp whose money-driven lifestyle erodes when she faces a dangerous new rival (Edi Gathegi).

The film’s prologue establishes Wednesday’s tumultuous childhood. Under the tutelage of his late father Midnight John (DMX), he learns the inner workings of pimping and hooking. Through these illicit affairs, he learns to build emotional walls for the sake of running business. While his role is minimally exploited, X’s aura permeates the film through inherited characteristics from Wednesday. In its own way, the film becomes a belatedly cathartic examination of the residual influence left by those who have passed on, for better or for worse.

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