Earl Simmons (born December 18, 1970), professionally known as DMX, is an American hip hop recording artist and actor from Yonkers, New York. In 1999, DMX released his best-selling album ...And Then There Was X, which included the hit single "Party Up (Up in Here)". He has been featured in films such as Belly, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 the Grave and Last Hour. In 2006, he starred in the reality television series DMX: Soul of a Man, which was primarily aired on the BET cable television network. In 2003, DMX published a book of his memoirs entitled, E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX.
DMX was born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon, New York, the son of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker, and was raised in Yonkers, New York. Simmons went through an abusive childhood that included stays at group homes and frequent arrests.
1991–1995: Career Beginning
DMX began venturing into hip hop in 1988 as a beatboxer. In 1991, Gabriel Grevenstuk from The Source magazine praised DMX in his Unsigned Hype column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. In 1991, DMX recorded his first demos, Unstoppable Force and Three Little Pigs. His stage name was a tribute to an instrument he used in the 1980s, the Oberheim DMX drum machine, and later was interpreted as "Dark Man X".
In 1992, Columbia Records signed DMX to their subsidiary label Ruffhouse, which released his debut single "Born Loser". The single did not get much airplay. The label eventually agreed to release DMX from their contract. He released his second single, "Make a Move" in 1994, and made a guest appearance alongside Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and Mic Geronimo on the classic underground track "Time To Build" on Mic Geronimo's debut album in 1995. He also appeared on LL Cool J's single "4, 3, 2, 1" in 1997. Additional guest spots on Mase singles "24 Hrs. to Live" and "Take What's Yours", and The LOX's single "Money, Power & Respect" created a strong buzz. DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for "Makes No Difference".
1996–98: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
In February 1998, DMX released his debut major-label single, "Get at Me Dog", on Def Jam Recordings. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA. His first major-label album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, which included the single "Ruff Ryders Anthem", was released in May 1998. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S and sold over five million copies.
Later that year in December, DMX released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, where it remained for three consecutive weeks. Within one week of the album's release, 670,000 units were shipped. It was eventually certified Platinum four times. As a result, DMX was the first rapper in history to have released two number one albums in the same year, both of which debuted on Billboard 200.
1999–2000: ...And Then There Was X
DMX released his third and best-selling album ...And Then There Was X, on December 21, 1999. It was his third album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Its most popular single, "Party Up", became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts. Singles "What's My Name?" and "What These Bitches Want" were also popular. The album was certified Platinum six times.
2001–02: The Great Depression
After improving his legal situation (see section "Legal Issues"), DMX returned to the studio to complete his fourth album, The Great Depression. Released October 23, 2001, it was his fourth album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, featuring the singles "Who We Be", "We Right Here", and "Shorty Was The Bomb". Despite the album's triple Platinum certification, its commercial and critical success was lower than his previous album.
2003–04: Grand Champ
His fifth album, Grand Champ, once again debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts, placing DMX as the only musical artist in history to release five consecutive albums (his entire album catalog at the time) that debuted at number one. Singles include "Where Tha Hood At" and "Get it on the Floor". After its release, he informed the public that he planned to retire, and that Grand Champ would be his final album.
2005–08: Year of the Dog...Again and The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter
DMX signed to Columbia Records in January 2006. He recorded his next album, Year of the Dog...Again, while switching record labels, which caused numerous delays. It was finally released on August 1, 2006, and missed the number one Billboard spot by only a few hundred copies. He released two more singles, "Lord Give Me A Sign" and "We In Here"
On June 12, 2008, Def Jam released a compilation of his greatest hits, The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter. Def Jam released another compilation album, The Best of DMX, in 2011. which features hit singles including "Where the Hood At?" and "X Gon' Give It to Ya".
In 2009, DMX claimed he would pursue preaching in Jersey City, New Jersey but will also continue to produce music. He completed a Gospel album prior to his incarceration. According to MTV, he had semi-retired to study the Bible more in an effort to give messages behind the pulpit.
On October 11, 2011 DMX performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards. He stated that he has been working "nonstop, every day" on his seventh album, which was later titled Undisputed. A video for a new track entitled "Last Hope" was released via the Internet on September 24, 2011, and was later included on The Weigh In EP released digitally on May 5, 2012.
In late February 2012, Seven Arts Entertainment Inc. acquired United Music Media Group's music assets (which included a catalog of DMX's music), and signed DMX to a two album deal. During a performance at New York's Santos Party House on December 25, 2011, DMX stated that the new album will be entitled Undisputed and would be released on March 26, 2012. After numerous delays the album was eventually released on September 11, 2012 and featured production from Swizz Beatz and J.R. Rotem with a guest appearance by MGK.
2013–present: Eighth studio album
In 2013, DMX announced he had begun working on his eighth studio album. He has been seen collaborating with producers Swizz Beatz and Dame Grease. In December, after regaining his passport, he embarked on a world tour with performances in Bulgaria and Kosovo, with additional performances expected in Europe and the Middle East.
On January 7, 2015 it was announced by DMX's label Seven Arts Music that DMX would be releasing a new album next week entitled Redemption of the Beast, but later during the day close personal friend & recurring collaborator producer/rapper/entrepreneur Swizz Beatz confirmed that this was false, DMX's management would also confirm it was false as well. On January 13, 2015 Seven Arts Music would release Redemption of the Beast. On January 15, 2015 it was announced by DMX's brother/manager Montana that DMX was no longer signed to Seven Arts Music and that they would be taking legal action against Seven Arts Music for the unauthorized release of Redemption of the Beast stating,
Seven Arts Entertainment had no right to put out a new album. The only contract DMX had was for Undisputed & that came out two years ago. He don't have a contract with them to release another album. You can't just put somebody's album out without permission. X only had a contract with them for one album & that album already came out a long time ago. If they wanted to come out with another album, they had to come to the table. That's why we sent a cease & desist letter. Some of the songs are from the Undisputed album & there's three extra songs that he recorded that were not on the Undisputed album that they just put on that album. That's what they did. We don't even know where he got that picture on the cover from. It boils down to they have no rights to whip out that new album. His contract is over. He gave 'em the first album. The owner called me said he's stuck with a couple albums. He wants to push them out. He needed our help, so he had to sit at the table with us & he never did that. He decided to take it upon himself to do what the fuck he did. He was supposed to take care of some business with me & he took it upon himself not to do it, so he's gonna have a lot of problems if he does. He's already got problems.
For his upcoming album, long-time collaborator Swizz Beatz stated that two of the collaborators on the album will be Kanye West and Dr. Dre. His 2003 song X Gon' Give It to Ya was featured in the 2016 film Deadpool and in its trailers.
DMX is a Christian who reads the Bible every day. While in prison, DMX stated that he had a purpose for being there: "I came here to meet somebody...Don't know who it was, but I'll know when I see him. And I came here to give him a message. And that message is Jesus loves them." DMX is currently a transitional deacon in the Christian Church and aspires to become ordained as a pastor, stating that he received this call in 2012.
DMX is the father of twelve children. He was married to Tashera Simmons in 1999 and they were married for eleven years. In July 2010, after his first of three incarcerations that year, Tashera announced their separation. DMX maintains that the two remain friends.
DMX had multiple extramarital affairs during his marriage to Simmons, some of which produced children. DNA testing confirmed that he is the father of at least two children; the first was born to Maryland resident Monique Wayne in 2004, the second to a different woman in late 2008. DMX and Wayne fought over her claim that he was the father of her son for years, during which she has sued him repeatedly for defamation of character, and for child support. After DNA testing proved DMX fathered Wayne's son in 2007, he was ordered to pay her $1.5 million.
On July 30, 2013, DMX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing his child support obligations as his priority claim. The filing was challenged by the Department of Justice's bankruptcy watchdog trustee program, and was later dismissed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on November 11, 2013.
Since becoming a public figure, DMX's multiple arrests have been for offenses including: resisting arrest, animal cruelty, reckless driving, unlicensed driving, drug possession, and identity falsification.
When officers of the Fort Lee Police Department executed a search of his home in 1999, DMX promptly surrendered himself on weapons possession charges.
DMX faced a 1999 animal cruelty charge in Teaneck, New Jersey, that was dismissed after the performer agreed to accept responsibility and record public service announcements for an animal rights group.
In 2000, DMX served a 15-day jail sentence for possession of marijuana.
DMX served another jail sentence in 2001 for driving without a license and possession of marijuana. His appeal to reduce the sentence was denied; rather, he was charged with assault for throwing objects at prison guards. DMX entered rehab to treat his addiction to drugs in 2002.
In January 2002, DMX pleaded guilty in New Jersey to 13 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of maintaining a nuisance and one count each of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia. He eventually plea-bargained down to fines, probation and community service, and starred in a public-service announcements against the dangers of guns and animal abuse.
In June 2004, DMX was arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, on charges of cocaine possession, criminal impersonation, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while claiming to be a federal agent and attempting to carjack a vehicle. He was given a conditional discharge on December 8, 2004, but pleaded guilty on October 25, 2005, to violating parole.
On November 18, 2005, DMX was sentenced to 70 days in jail for violating parole; the lateness charge added a 10-day extension to the original 60-day sentence. DMX was released early (for "good behavior") on December 30, 2005.
On May 9, 2008 DMX was arrested on drug and animal cruelty charges after attempting to barricade himself inside his Arizona home.
DMX pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession, theft, and animal cruelty, at a hearing on December 30, 2008; he was sentenced to 90 days in jail on January 31, 2009.
On May 22, 2009, DMX entered a plea agreement/change of plea, and pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault.
After serving four out of six months for violating drug probation, DMX was released from jail on July 6, 2010. That day, a television pilot was filmed to portray his road to recovery; however, DMX was arrested three weeks later and the pilot did not evolve into a series.
On July 27, 2010, DMX turned himself in to Los Angeles Metropolitan Court for a reckless driving charge he received in 2002. He was sentenced to serve ninety days in jail.
On November 19, 2010, DMX was arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona on charges of violating his probation by consuming alcohol (at a performance). On December 20, 2010, DMX was moved to the Mental Health Unit of the Arizona State Prison, and released on July 18, 2011.
DMX was arrested on August 24, 2011, for speeding (recorded as 102 mph in a 65 mph zone), reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license. While DMX admitted to speeding, he claims he was driving 85 mph, not 102 mph as charged.
DMX was arrested on February 13, 2013 in Spartanburg, South Carolina for driving without a drivers license.
He was arrested again on July 26, 2013 in Greenville County, South Carolina and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as driving without a license.
DMX was arrested on August 20, 2013 in Greer, South Carolina during a traffic stop after a car he was a passenger in made an improper u-turn. He was arrested due to an outstanding warrant for driving under suspension. Four packages of marijuana were also found in the vehicle, and he along with the driver were cited for them.
DMX was again arrested on November 4, 2013 by the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport police near Greer, South Carolina after police, who were familiar with his prior arrests, noticed DMX behind the wheel of a vehicle at the terminal. DMX was booked on charges of driving under suspension, having an uninsured vehicle, and not having a licensed vehicle. He was subsequently released after spending three hours in jail.
On June 26, DMX was arrested in New York stemming from a robbery complaint in Newark, New Jersey, and outstanding child support charges.
On July 14, DMX was sentenced to 6 months in jail for failing to pay $400,000 in child support.
On December 14, an arrest warrant was issued for DMX after he missed a court hearing to address child support issues with his ex-wife Tashera Simmons and their 4 kids.
Feud with Ja Rule
DMX and Jay-Z guest-starred on the single "It's Murda" from Ja Rule's first album. Ja Rule had previously feuded with Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent; all of which had been resolved or faded from significance. DMX accused Ja Rule of copying DMX's signature "gruff style". DMX said that he wanted the feud to end when he was released from jail in 2005: "Gotti came to me in jail and said I want to make peace with you and him. I was like, 'Alright Gotti, let's do it." DMX and Ja Rule finally ended their feud at VH1's 2009 Hip Hop Honors.