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Why Didn’t DMX’s Most Enduring Hits Fare Better on the Billboard Hot 100?

The late rapper’s stats on the Hot 100 aren’t nearly what you might expect from a rapper of his level of stardom and renown — though he might have a chance to add to them following his death.

Rap legend DMX, who died at age 50 last Friday (April 9) was unquestionably one of the biggest names in music at the turn of the millennium. His star power was at a level where he was starring in big-budget action movies, performing to the biggest crowds for a non-rock act at Woodstock ’99, and selling albums by the millions with each new release. But for all his obvious and easily measured successes, there was one metric by which you wouldn’t necessarily see DMX as having all that enormous an impact: the Billboard Hot 100.

On Billboard‘s marquee songs chart, DMX’s successes were still numerous, but they were relatively modest. He appeared on the chart an impressive 16 times — 11 as a lead artist — but the great majority of those entries saw peaks in the bottom half of the listing. In fact, only three times in his career did he even grace the Hot 100’s top 40, with the highest-charting of that trio coming via his guest appearance on The Lox’s “Money, Power & Respect” (No. 17 peak, 1998). His only other trips to the top 40 came with his Sheek Louch-featuring breakout single “Get at Me Dog” (No. 39, 1998) and his solo smash “Party Up (Up in Here)” (No. 27, 2000) — with other signature hits like “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” (No. 94, 1998), “What’s My Name” (No. 67, 2000) and “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” (No. 60, 2003) all falling well short.

Three Hot 100 top 40 hits for an entire career — and never a single trip to the top 10 — seems like pretty scant chart representation for an established rap superstar, especially by today’s hip-hop blockbuster standards. (For comparison, Lil Baby scored eight top 40 hits and two top 10s last year just between the regular and deluxe tracklistings of his My Turn set.) Meanwhile, though his musical impact wasn’t necessarily reflected on the Hot 100 songs chart, it absolutely was on the Billboard 200 albums chart, where DMX made history by becoming the first artist (of any genre) to hit No. 1 with each of his first five albums (1998’s It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, 1999’s …And Then There Was X, 2001’s The Great Depression and 2003’s Grand Champ). So why wasn’t DMX more of a Hot 100 chart fixture during his lifetime?

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