US rapper and actor DMX is in serious condition in hospital following a heart attack.

The hip-hop icon, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was taken to hospital in White Plains, New York late on Friday evening according to his lawyer Murray Richman.

In a statement, Richman confirmed the 50-year-old  rapper is surrounded by his family saying: "He was on life support.

"He's been taken off of life support. He is breathing on his own but there is a little brain activity.

"It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I'm not a worried man at this particular point."

The lawyer refused to confirm a TMZ report which claimed the heart attack was the result of an overdose. 

The Yonkers, New York-raised DMX was signed by Columbia Records in 1992 and has collaborated with Jay-Z, Ja Rule and LL Cool J as well as acting in films including Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave.

He suffered bronchial asthma as a child and has admitted to previous health problems including being addicted to crack cocaine.

He was resuscitated and taken to hospital in February 2016 after being found unresponsive in a hotel parking lot in Yonkers, an incident he later said was due to an asthma attack.

DMX's fans and family are planning to hold a prayer vigil outside his New York hospital.