Attempts to contact Simmons' parents were unsuccessful. He reportedly hasn't spoken to his father in years, and he's estranged from his mother. "My mother beat me for every man that did her wrong, for every man that fucked her and left her," Simmons wrote in E.A.R.L.

Simmons discovered his talent for words in the third grade. One day, he ran home and proudly proclaimed, "I can spell 'Empire State Building'!" But he says his mother just glanced up and told him to run along. So he started doing other things to get attention, like fighting and throwing chairs at teachers. He was first incarcerated at 10, when the courts sent him to a children's home for 18 months.

After he returned home, he ran away often. By his teens, he was using drugs, stealing, and mugging people.

And he started taking in stray dogs. He'd look all over the neighborhood for strays, the mangier the better, sometimes following them for hours, trying to coax them to his side. They became his only companions, and since dogs weren't allowed inside his apartment building, he slept with them on the roof. He would lie there, looking up at the stars, and think how he trusted dogs more than people because dogs loved him back and would never betray him.

One day, a neighbor kid called Peanut called animal control about Simmons' dog, Blacky; Simmons says officers shot Blacky right in front of him. A week later, a pissed-off Simmons went to school with a sawed-off shotgun taped to his leg. A few days later, he was in a juvenile detention facility, the first of many.

Simmons decided he wanted to be an MC. He was beatboxing and calling himself Beat Box Enforcer, but when he noticed the rappers got more attention, he began writing rhymes. He called himself DMX the Great, taking his moniker from the Oberheim DMX drum machine he used to make his beats. He also linked the initials with the name Darkman X — also known as just X — for his shadow side.

He battled other MCs on the streets, performed at community centers, and continued to steal and sell drugs. In 1991, he was featured in a column called "Unsigned Hype" in hip-hop magazine The Source, and in 1992, he signed to Ruffhouse Records, a subsidiary of Columbia Records. But his first single, "Born Loser," didn't take off, and he was released from his contract.

Around this time, Simmons was reintroduced to a woman named Tashera. They had both attended Yonkers High School, but she remembers first meeting him when he was 11. "I was coming down the block, and he was taking an old lady's purse," she recalls with a chuckle.

They married in 1999, and had four children. She says his drug use "was always a big fight," and worsened with fame and fortune. She noticed his "different mood swings" early on. "I started to think he had multiple personalities. There was Earl, that really, really loved me and was the person I fell in love with, and then there was this dark one, X, who didn't care for me and didn't want to follow the rules."

When Simmons first heard one of his songs on the radio, he was in jail in Valhalla, N.Y., on assault and battery charges. "Spellbound" was getting airplay on WBLS. After he was released, he hooked up with Joaquin "Waah" Dean and his brother, Darrin Dean, and formed a company called Ruff Ryders, which set up a record deal for DMX with Def Jam. His first album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, was released in May 1998. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, thanks largely to hit singles like "Ruff Ryders Anthem."

Simmons' career flourished. His second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, was released in December 1998, and also debuted at No. 1. He was the second rapper to have two albums debut in the top spot that year; the other was Tupac Shakur.

Over the next five years, he released three more albums: ... And Then There Was X (1999), The Great Depression (2001), and Grand Champ (2003). All debuted at No. 1. His last studio album, Year of the Dog ... Again, was released by Columbia in 2006. It fell short of debuting at the No. 1 spot by about a hundred copies.

Between albums, he starred in several movies, including Last Hour, Exit Wounds, and Romeo Must Die.

But despite his commercial success, his personal problems continued. His rap sheet, like his music, would become epic.


In June 2004, DMX made headlines when he was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York. He'd reportedly tried to steal a car by telling the driver he was an FBI agent, then crashed his SUV — with a billy club and a bag of crack in it — through a parking lot gate. He was charged with impersonating a federal agent, possession of cocaine, possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and attempted carjacking. He pleaded guilty, paid several fines, and served only seven days as part of a plea bargain.

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9 comments
sekesegyename
sekesegyename

You are a strong black brother, and your struggle has not been easy. No one can judge you, for we all have  sinned and come short. I encourage you to listen often to this particular web site.

mosque7.org His messages don't miss a beat. You are not alone. God was with the prophets in the past, and he'll be with you. Come all the way clean. God sees and know all things.Go back to the beginning, because you can't fight all those Pharoahs.. Get you house in order. God will bring you out. Hold on, and be strong.  Alafia

Yorated
Yorated

IAM RALPHY JESUS SALAS JR I SPENT 2 YEARS WITH DMX IN CHILDREN VILEGE HE IS THE BEST FRIEND ANY ONE CAN HAVE, HE IS ALWAYS IN HEART AND PRAYERS, LOVE YOU MY BROTHER YOU STAY SRTONG, YOU ARE GODS SON RALPHY AKA RATED R 1st TEAM PROD LLC

cierra jones
cierra jones

i dnt care if dmx have a prblem cu i no partialy hw he feel i stll listen to hys musiq t2da cu hes real he speks upon hys lfe wit no lys n really i luk up to hym as a male rapper cu he feels pain he wnts hlp n i c it i lu u dmx an my drems will sty truuue (GROWL).............

Carlosegodinez
Carlosegodinez

I can't believe that the author didn't cite "Belly" That's the coolest movie ever. I grew up on that movie. I'm also surprised the author didn't talk about the song on the album "It's dark and Hell is hot" where he talks to Damien. The article was really informative, but bias.

Romanowski45
Romanowski45

"Many famous rappers from troubled backgrounds — including Lil' Wayne, T.I., and Too Short —have been jailed on various charges. But DMX has sold more records in the U.S. than they have, and his rap sheet is the longest."

Now why you have to lump in Too Short with these guys? How many times was he arrested ?I could find one for his attack on a Security Guard, in Boise last year. And I googled that from bed.

The SF WEEKLY'S stories start to sound and look like the NY Post.

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linaimai

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Vera
Vera

Life is not fair. Simmons is blessed but he is his-own-worst enemy.Good news, God helps those that help themselves.

steve
steve

X hold yah head, you'll make it back soon!

 
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