Skip To Content

    The 21 Most Essential DMX Songs

    Exploring the songs that helped solidify his legacy in the wake of his tragic death.

    Earl Simmons was bigger than Jay-Z. DMX took Def Jam to another level when he entered the scene. He dropped two albums in his first year, both of which went multiplatinum. This was unheard of in hip-hop at the time.

    DMX smiles for the cameras
    Prince Williams / WireImage

    It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood took the world by storm. He followed those two projects with straight fire, becoming the first rapper to have their first five albums debut at No. 1.

    DMX performs at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2001 at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, Florida.  8/20/01  Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect
    Scott Gries / Getty Images

    DMX came out of the gate swinging, although some of his later projects missed the commercial train.

    His first 10 years in the game were monumental to hip-hop. Anyone who was aware of pop culture in the late '90s into the 2000s understood the power of this poet's pen.

    RIP DMX. He was a phenomenal rapper but I will always remember him backflipping 7 feet up a wall to escape a dog in Cradle 2 The Grave. #RIPDMX #RIPPrincePhilip

    Twitter: @JoeyNasab

    But music wasn't the only thing.

    DMX also starred in multiple No. 1 movies, including Cradle 2 the Grave and Exit Wounds. That's right. While having No. 1 albums, DMX was also starring in movies that opened at the top spot.

    DMX in a black leather jacket gazes seriously at the camera
    Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    He was the pinnacle of hip-hop and acting success. A true GOAT and legend.

    Let's not get away from the music, though.

    I was eleven when "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" dropped, and I knew every word. ELEVEN. RIP DMX. New York Stand Up.

    Twitter: @ericabuddington

    Before this turns into a full-blown DMX tribute, let's get back to what made this man a legend in the first place: the strength of his pen.

    Here is my list of the 21 most essential DMX songs:

    Keep in mind, these are in no particular order.

    1. "Damien"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    "Why is it every move I make turns out to be a bad one? / Where's my guardian angel? Need one, wish I had one." The opening lines of "Damien" give us a peek into DMX's soul: a man who felt like life gave him a bad hand, who's searching for God to end his pain. This song spawned a series of sequels, but the OG version is the best.

    2. "Party Up (Up in Here)"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label / Via youtube.com

    "Party Up (Up in Here)" is a classic DMX cut. This record will immediately turn any party into a madhouse. This was the type of energy that X brought to the game. We will miss it.

    3. "Slippin'"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    DMX always found moments of calm on his albums to really drive home the pain and anarchy of the world he was raised in. "Slippin'" is easily a top-five DMX track (although I promised I wouldn't rank the tracks on this list). This poet's pain helped a lot of people through their own struggles.

    4. "4,3,2,1"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    Although this isn't a DMX song, we would be remiss not to highlight the verse that shook the world. The ultimate scene-stealer, X proved his worth before his album dropped by holding his own alongside some of the most legendary lyricists to ever touch a mic.

    5. "Get It on the Floor"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    Leave it to DMX and Swizz Beatz to bring us another club hit. "Get It on the Floor" has a beat that will drive you wild, while X lays down his patented hard-hitting bars. The X and Swizz combo is a recipe for a banger.

    6. "X Gon' Give It to Ya"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    "It's what you're hearing, listen!" The intro to this track will get ANYONE hype. How can you not bark madly to the royal trumpets and psycho energy of "X Gon' Give It to Ya"? This is peak X right here.

    7. "We Right Here"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    A more "feel good" track from DMX, "We Right Here" is a melodic offering with chill vibes. The playful pianos on this beat always put me in a great mood.

    8. "What's My Name"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    I'm 100% sure people have been thrown off roofs to this single. "What's My Name" is one of the most aggressively fun X tracks ever created. Even Jay-Z had to stop by for a cameo in this video.

    9. "Who We Be"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    DMX paints a picture of the hood by using commercial appeal and mixing it with street antics on "Who We Be." He was one of the few with this skill and was probably the last REAL gangsta rapper on this Earth.

    10. "Get at Me Dog"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    Is it even summertime in New York until "Get at Me Dog" blares from the radio? There's something about this single that just brings that '90s summer–in–New York energy to life in the most accurate musical form.

    11. "Here We Go Again"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    DMX's storytelling abilities are on full display here. "Here We Go Again" finds X grappling with his own decisions when it comes to mentorship, friendship, spirituality, and street life.

    12. "Money, Power, Respect"

    View this video on YouTube

    WMG (Bad Boy) / Via youtube.com

    Once again, although this isn't DMX's song, I had to throw it on this list. "Money, Power, Respect" is a quintessential Ruff Ryders/New York/'90s hip-hop record. X takes the last verse and does what he does best: dominates.

    13. "Where the Hood At"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    DMX always put on for the hood. He never forgot his roots, and made sure that we didn't forget them, either. Yet another X and Swizz classic...this list is filled with them.

    14. "Good Girls, Bad Guys"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    Why do good girls like bad guys? DMX tackles the age-old question on this single. No philosophical conclusion emerges from this track, but we do get to dance to another hit record.

    15. "What These Bitches Want"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    Classic. Sisqó was also at the top of his career around this time, and the duo of him and X was more than the game could handle. If you can't name all the women in the second verse, are you even a REAL DMX fan? Don't worry, I miss a couple of names myself. "ABOUT THREE KIMS, WHAT?!"

    16. "Stop Being Greedy"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    This beat still gives me chills. "Stop Being Greedy" was DMX's second single from his debut album, and it helped catapult him to multiplatinum status right out the gate.

    PS: This may be the best sample of "My Hero Is a Gun" EVER!

    17. "Blackout"

    View this video on YouTube

    UMG (Rush Associated Label) / Via youtube.com

    The Lox and Jay-Z joined DMX for this street hit. At this point, Jay-Z was heating up, but DMX would be the one to reach superstardom faster. Listening to these GOATs in their youth is like looking into a time machine.

    18. "Money, Cash, Hoes"

    Roc-a-Fella Records / Via embed.spotify.com

    This is the last track on this list that isn't DMX's...I swear! Hailing from both Jay-Z's Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life album and the soundtrack for the film The Corruptor, "Money, Cash, Hoes" was the perfect ratchet anthem. Jay ended up throwing Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel on the remix and in the music video (while cutting X out), which may have been one of the moves that started to push Jay and X away from each other and into competition for hip-hop dominance.

    19. "Grand Finale"

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony / ATV Music Publishing / Via youtube.com

    DMX and Nas starred in Belly, considered one of the best hip-hop films of all time. "Grand Finale," a single for that film, featured Method Man and Ja Rule alongside X and Nas. Ahhh...much simpler times.

    20. "How It's Going Down"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    DMX didn't make love music often, but he did do it. "How It's Going Down" stands out for showing the "softer" side of Earl Simmons. In my opinion, this song is severely underrated.

    21. "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Island Def Jam Music Group / Via youtube.com

    Yeah, you knew this would be on the list. That's why I saved it for last. Arguably the most famous song in X's history, "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" was a single that lit the world on fire and propelled the Double R to hip-hop infamy.