"If you listen to his prayers and the hurt inside him, he is crying out for help," King says. "He's a great person, someone you can depend on ... he does know the word of God. He just needs deliverance."

As part of trying to get his life together, Simmons turned himself into authorities in Los Angeles in July for a reckless driving charge he received in 2002. He served 18 days of a 90-day sentence and returned to his home in Cave Creek, hoping to stay a free man.


Many of the new DMX songs were written and recorded on the first take, right after he first heard the beats. "He is truly one of the world's greatest rappers and a genuine poet," says Don Salter, owner of the Saltmine Studio Oasis in Mesa, Ariz., where DMX recorded Walk with Me Now and Fly with Me Later. "He has a spontaneous ability to rhyme, reason, and record masterpieces on the fly."

Some of them reflect on his chaotic life. Perhaps most haunting is "Soldier," which begins with a collage of sound bites from news stations about his varrests, laid down over a melancholy piano hook and marching beat. In the first verse, DMX raps: "Ran through the streets, made it out of NY/Come to AZ, cowboys trying to end me/Man, you can't be serious, homie/Besides mountains, ain't a fucking thing you can show me."

Whenever DMX has been arrested in Phoenix, Arpaio has been right there, helping to make it a media production, saying the rapper "never learns his lesson" and vowing to treat him the same as any other prisoner — which includes making him wear pink underwear like the rest of the MCSO inmates. A couple years ago, DMX told TMZ, "For the record, fuck Sheriff Joe." Asked if he feels he's been treated unfairly, Simmons says, "I'd say I've been given a lot of unfair treatment. But I'm not gonna let that dictate what I do."

Other new DMX songs address his relationship with God. Fly with Me Later consists entirely of gospel hip-hop songs. In "Have You Eva," he raps about everyday struggles, over R&B and soulful female backing vocals. But the lyrics apply to Simmons as much as anyone: "Have you ever seen something that you wanted so bad?/Then you got it and wished it was something you never had?/Don't beat yourself up, like 'Where did I go wrong?'/Just get back up, pray on it, and go on."

Many of the tracks feature beats contributed by Swizz Beatz, Waah and Darrin Dean's nephew. Beatz sold his first beat to DMX when he was 17. He has gone on to produce music for Beyoncé and Busta Rhymes, and now runs his own label, Full Surface Records.

When Beatz initially sent the music, DMX had been out of jail for a while. "He was very diligent at being clean and maintaining his sobriety. He was very clear-headed," Salter says. "I think he really did buy into the idea that he was going to get his life together and get his career back."

But by 2010, Simmons' career had fallen apart. He left Def Jam in 2003, claiming it was because the new label president, Jay-Z, wasn't promoting his albums. Walker says Jay-Z let Simmons go so he could deal with his problems, and didn't demand the $2 million Simmons would have owed for not fulfilling his contract. (Jay-Z's publicist at Universal did not respond to interview requests for this story, and an interview request through his book publisher was declined.)

Simmons signed to Bodog Music in 2007 to record and release Walk with Me Now and Fly with Me Later. After that label shut down in 2008, International Arts Management and Her Royal Majesty's Records retained the rights to the songs. According to IAM's CEO Peter Karroll, the plan is still to release the record. "I've always felt the guy was a creative genius and deserved another shot," he says. "I think this album has the potential to take him back to number one."

But Karroll says whenever they got ready to release the album, Simmons would get arrested. He doesn't want to release the record while he's in jail. Karroll also says once the album's released, they need a budget for distribution and promotion.

Karroll says he has received several investor offers, but negotiations collapse every time DMX lands in jail. Ideally, Simmons could buy back his licenses, but he doesn't have the money. Somebody who has sold millions of albums could conceivably live off publishing royalties, but Simmons admits he never looked at his finances the first 10 years of his career.

When Nakia Walker came on board and looked at Simmons' business papers last year, she says she discovered someone had been stealing his publishing royalties for more than a decade.

On April 26, 2010, Simmons filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against Rich Kid Entertainment, a company he'd hired in 1999 to collect his royalties. The lawsuit alleges that instead of taking the 10 percent cut its contract dictated, Rich Kid pocketed 100 percent of Simmons' publishing profits. "DMX has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has had No. 1 singles and albums on the Billboard charts, which in turn have generated a great amount of revenue for Defendants, but has left [DMX] with nothing," the suit says. The lawsuit is still pending. Walker says she's busy dealing with other problems, including promoters threatening to sue over concerts DMX missed because he was incarcerated.

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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.

linaimai
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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