Earl Simmons (December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021), known professionally as DMX, was an American rapper and actor. He is regarded as one of the most important figures of 2000s hip hop.[6] His music is characterized by his "aggressive" rapping style,[7] with his lyrical content varying from hardcore themes to prayers.[4][5]

DMX in 2001
Earl Simmons

(1970-12-18)December 18, 1970
DiedApril 9, 2021(2021-04-09) (aged 50)
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Burial placeOakland Cemetery, Yonkers, New York, U.S.
Other names
  • Dark Man X
  • X
  • Divine Master of the Unknown
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • actor
Years active1985–2021
Tashera Simmons
(m. 1999; div. 2014)
PartnerDesiree Lindstrom (2016–2021)[b][1]
Musical career
OriginYonkers, New York, U.S.[3]
Formerly of

He began rapping in the early 1990s and released his debut album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot in 1998, to both critical acclaim and commercial success, selling 251,000 copies within its first week of release.[8][9] DMX released his best-selling album, ... And Then There Was X, in 1999, which included the hit single "Party Up (Up in Here)". His 2003 singles "Where the Hood At?" and "X Gon' Give It to Ya" were also commercially successful. He was the first artist to debut an album at No.1 five times in a row on the Billboard 200 charts.[10] DMX sold over 74 million records worldwide.[11]

DMX was 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, he published a book of his memoirs titled E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX.[12]

Early life Edit

Earl Simmons was born on December 18, 1970, in Mount Vernon, New York.[13] He was the son of 19-year-old Arnett Simmons and 18-year-old Joe Barker.[14] Earl was Simmons' second child; she had given birth to a daughter, Bonita, two years prior, and later gave birth to one daughter, Shayla, and two stillborn sons.[3] His father, Barker, was an artist who painted watercolor paintings of street scenes to sell at local fairs. Barker moved to Philadelphia and was largely absent from his life.[15]

As a child, Simmons suffered greatly from bronchial asthma, being taken to the emergency room almost nightly due to him waking up unable to breathe.[3][15] He was raised as a Jehovah's Witness but became disillusioned with the faith after an incident where he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street. A month later, an insurance representative went to his house to try and reach an agreement to prevent his family from suing. Simmons claims he was told that his family could have been awarded a settlement of $10,000 and possibly even more for the injuries he sustained. However, his mother rejected the settlement as she claimed that Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to be self-sufficient, although the group's official doctrine at the time did not prohibit suing or receiving settlements.[3]

Simmons went through a disjointed childhood that included being beaten by his mother and her various boyfriends so badly that he lost teeth and sustained numerous bruises and cuts on his face. When Simmons was five years old, his family settled into the School Street Projects in Yonkers, New York.[16] When he was six years old, his mother knocked out two of his teeth with a broom after he erased something in her notebook.[3] At school, he threw chairs at teachers and stabbed another child in the face with a pencil.[15] When he was seven, an aunt got him drunk on vodka. The same year, he was jailed for stealing cakes from a market.[15] One summer, his mother locked him in his bedroom, allowing him to only exit for trips to the bathroom.[15] At the end of the fifth grade, at age 10, Simmons was expelled from school and sent to the Julia Dyckman Andrus Children's Home for 18 months. X states that he actually enjoyed it there at first. He received 3 meals with a dessert every day, an allowance every week, colored televisions and stereos he could use, and occasional vacations. Also, for Christmas, the school gave each child $25. Every so often, Earl would receive visits from his family which he described as his favorite times. They would go out on the lawn and play frisbee, sleigh ride when it was snowy, and just socialise.[3] Earl and a kid he met at the group home decided to experiment like kids do. They wanted to see if they lit a blue flame to the basement floor, would the floor turn blue. He was charged with arson, after this he and the kid (Adam) started fighting a lot and it became a major problem. X attempted to choke him to death one day and was taken from the normal school population and had to stay in an unused office during school hours. He also had to move out of his cottage and live in the infirmary.[3] Later, Earl was sent to Children's Village. In what he described as a defining moment of betrayal, his mother tricked him by telling him they were just visiting the home, then she enrolled him there.[15][3]

When he was 14, Earl returned to Yonkers. Simmons began living between the streets, his grandma's place, and couch surfing at a friend's house. This had been regular for X since he was a young child, even sleeping in Salvation Army clothing bins a few times. At a young age, he began to feel a connection to dogs, and started befriending stray dogs and even stealing dogs.[15][3][17] During his time in group homes he had started beatboxing and became very engaged with Hip Hop. After performing for his friends, they encouraged Simmons to continue writing music at the behest of his teacher. When he returned home, Simmons met Ready Ron, a local rapper, who was impressed with Simmons' beatboxing skills and asked him to become his partner. Simmons chose the name "DMX", which came from an instrument he had used at the boys' home, the Oberheim DMX drum machine. It later was also interpreted as "Divine Master Of The Unknown" and "Dark Man X".[3][17]

As a freshman at Yonkers Middle High School, DMX was the second-fastest on the track-and-field varsity team. However, he had bad grades and a sparse attendance record.[15] He turned to robbery as a way of making money to eat and buy clothes, jewellery and supplies for his dog: his first was a purse snatch theft in Yonkers that netted him $1,000 (equivalent to $2,800 in 2022), which he used to buy a leather dog collar and dog harness for his dog, and a pair of Timberland boots for himself.[3] After celebrating a friends birthday, X hit a blunt handed to him by Ready Ron. It was laced with crack, shortly after Earl had build up a strong addiction to crack. By the end of the year, he attended school just to rob people and was robbing three people per day to fund his addiction for crack.[3] He also started carjacking.[15] X was locked up for a few months for stealing a dog. Later after being released went to school with a shotgun strapped to his leg one day to commit a robbery, and a few days later was arrested again and sentenced to two years at Industry Institution, a low security unit in upstate New York.[3] Two days in, Earl and his cellmate, a white kid from an upstate town, escaped. They walked three days in the snow to the town Earl's cellmate lived in. They stayed in the basement of a friends house, and there his accomplice left Earl by himself. Earl was found by the family and they fed him and let him stay until they gave him money to get home for his birthday.[3]

In 1988, while Earl was in the Hamptons with a friend that he drove in a stolen car, he was arrested and his "friend" snitched on him, giving police all the information they needed. He was sent to Suffolk County Jail where he battled other inmates, namely K-Solo.[3]

Musical career Edit

1985–1995: Career beginnings Edit

DMX got his start in performing at age 14, in 1985, when he beatboxed for Ready Ron. They would do small shows together where Ready Ron would control the mic as the Emcee, and DMX would beatbox and adlib for Ron. After a while he came to a realization that the Rapper was always the person getting all of the attention, so he decided to start rapping himself. Going by the name "DMX", meaning "Divine Master Of The Unknown" and later "Darkman X".[3] After serving a 2-year prison sentence, he began writing his own lyrics and performing at the local recreation center for younger children. In 1988, while in prison for carjacking, he began dedicating almost all of his free time to writing lyrics and battling other inmates.[3] During this time he had created a style called "Spellbound" where he spelled each word out letter by letter. While in Suffolk County Jail he met up and coming rapper K-Solo and they engaged in a battle.[3] X claims to have used the spellbound style to defeat him, and K-Solo claims to have created and used the spellbound style to win against DMX. After the battle they gained respect for each over and became friends. DMX was released in 1988, but spent majority of 1989 locked up as well. Upon being released in late 1989, he began producing and selling his own mixtapes where he rapped over instrumentals from other songs and sold them on street corners, which helped him build a local fan base all over Yonkers. At the time he was working with a Yonkers DJ called DJ Kasun.[3]

In 1990 shortly after DMX's release from prison, K-Solo released his single "Spellbound". From here DMX felt as if K-Solo had stolen his style and began making tracks dissing him and putting them on mixtapes.[3] In 1990 his DJ, Kasun was locked up and another local DJ named Superior became DMX's main DJ and close friend.[3] X began going all around New York performing at shows, battling over rappers and selling his mixtapes. In November 1990 DMX battled Bill Blass at School 12, Yonkers. This makes the audio on YouTube potentially the oldest recording of DMX. They eventually rematched the next year.[3] Around this time X was being managed by Jack McNasty, and had created a demo tape produced by House Party Productions.[3] The demo tape consisted of the tracks "Spellbound", "Critical Condition", "Unstoppable Force", "Three Little Pigs" and "The Original Author Of Spellbound" (a diss track dedicated to K-Solo). He made his first radio appearance in December 1990 on WBLS, where he was interviewed and spit his Spellbound style live a cappella.[3] Currently going by "DMX The Great", he made an appearance on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show in January 1991 with Percee P, where they both freestyled.[18] the same month, The Source magazine praised DMX in its Unsigned Hype column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists.[19] DMX continued to put out mixtapes, and in 1992 under "Ruff Ryders Ent." he put out his first single "Born Loser/Catching The Same Hell" independently. Later this year Columbia Records signed DMX to its subsidiary label Ruffhouse Records, which released his major debut single "Born Loser" in 1993.[20] After the single didn't achieve as much success as expected due to poor promotion, X finished his contract with Ruffhouse and was now an independent artist.[3]

In January 1994 Death Row Records had approached Ruff Ryders to sign DMX. They came to Powerhouse Studios in Yonkers after Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound had finished a show in New York. X spit for them and they were impressed with what they heard, the next week they flew Ruff Ryders out to Los Angeles to finalise signing DMX. Eventually they decided not to sign to Death Row since they couldn't reach the right agreement.[3] During 1993 and 1994 X was staying in Baltimore with Waah Dean, Darin "Dee" Dean and the rest of the original Ruff Ryders. One night X took a cab all the way from Baltimore to The Bronx to battle Jay Z. Both sides claim to have won, with the final result being decided as a draw.[3] Later this year he independently released his single, "Make a Move" with "Cant Touch Me Kid" as the B-Side. He also recorded another single "Up To No Good", produced by SpunkBigga. A music video was even shot for the song, filmed in Mulford Gardens, Yonkers where DMX lived, and 125th in Harlem, Manhattan. For unknown reasons the song was never released. He made his first guest appearance alongside Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and Mic Geronimo on the classic underground track "Time to Build" on Mic Geronimo's debut album.[3] In late 1994 DMX was sentenced to around a year of prison time for criminal possession of a weapon, and did his time in Valhalla Correctional Facility.[3] He was released around late 1995, and began featuring on songs with Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard, Cash Money Click, Black Child and Jay Z.

1996–1997: Building hype, coming close to death and signing to Def Jam Edit

During 1995 and 1996 DMX would spend a lot of time putting together mixtapes with DJs such as Superior, Crazy Rob and Steve Black. Around this time fellow Ruff Ryder's The Lox were signed to Bad Boy Records, and had Harlem producer Dame Grease create a large percentage of their beats. Eventually after a while of trying to convince him, Waah Dean signed Dame Grease as a producer for Ruff Ryders. Waah and Darin "Dee" Dean approached Sean Combs in the interest of getting DMX a deal, but Puffy claimed that DMX was not marketable enough.[3] DMX started making tracks with production by Dame Grease and PK, including a classic unreleased single called "Deeper".[3] Around this time DMX started to feel very pessimistic, and was under the impression that he would never succeed in the rap game.[3] However, in the summer of 1996 one of the songs DMX, The Lox and Mase had recorded, "Niggaz Done Started Something" became a mixtape/street hit. It was featured on DJ Clue's "Summatyme Shootout Pt.1 (1996)" mixtape, DJ S&S's "Bad Boy Vol. IV, Stop Yappin' (1996)" mixtape to name a couple. This song alone gave DMX a huge buzz, and later in November 1996 DMX made his first major mixtape exclusive appearance with the "Ghetto Life" freestyle on Ron G's "Street Dreams (1996)" mixtape.[3]

DMX was really starting to build up some hype in the streets, however one night in December 1996 X was brutally jumped and almost died. Earlier that evening he had picked up a chain he saw someone drop during a police chase, and was wearing a Avirex jacket he had stolen from someone's back yard weeks earlier.[3] While hanging out around "Slow bomb" projects, DMX was told people were looking for him believing that he had robbed a 16 year old for both the jacket and chain. DMX did not rob the kid, however the chain he took was robbed from the kid before X took it himself. He agreed to meet them, and explain to them he did not commit the robbery and was willing to hand over the possessions.[3] DMX met the father, uncles and multiple other people with the child who were looking for him in an alley way and handed them the jacket and chain, DMX tried to explain the situation but the kid persisted that DMX was indeed the person who robbed him. Suddenly, X was grabbed and the father began to punch him to the ground with the whole group brutally punching and stomping him out without any restraint.[3] after a while of the group stomping him out they began to drag him into a nearby park on Locust Hill, with other people on the street even joining in after hearing the false news that DMX had robbed a child. After minutes more of beating him the group began to leave him lying almost lifeless in the park, when one of the men started walking back with a brick to launch it at DMX's head.[3] Earl's survival instinct kicked in and he mustered all the strength in his body and managed to stumble away with the brick missing him. DMX described this as revenge for everyone he had ever robbed, and a lesson given to him by god.[3] An ambulance found him lying in a pile of blood a block away from the scene of the beating, he was taken to Yonkers General Hospital where he was sent home with the doctors claiming he hadn't broke anything and that he would be fine. 2 days later his throat had swelled up so much that he could barely breathe so Tashera Simmons took him to Valhalla Correctional Facility's hospital, where DMX's uncle was a Correctional Officer.[3] The doctors claimed that if he did not come to the hospital that day, that he would have died. They did an X-Ray on him and found that he had broken his jaw in multiple places and had many serious injuries. For 4 months DMX had his jaw wired, and had to eat only liquid food through a straw.[3]

Shortly before this event DMX's associate Irv Gotti became an A&R for Def Jam Recordings, and was telling DMX that Def Jam Recordings co-president Lyor Cohen was willing to come to Powerhouse Studios in Yonkers to hear DMX and other local rappers in Yonkers.[3] DMX claimed he didn't care when even if his jaw was indeed wired and he couldn't even speak properly, so the next night Lyor came to Powerhouse. DMX spit his best material and performed for almost an hour, with the maximum intensity, passion and emotion even with his jaw being wired shut. Lyor jumped up in the air amazed by DMX's performance and decided to sign DMX to Def Jam Recordings.[3]

1998-2000: Debut album and commercial success Edit

In March–April 1997, DMX had the wires taken out of his mouth. The same day he and The Lox recorded the famous "Get At Me Dog Freestyle" for DJ Clue's "Clueminatti: The New World Order" mixtape.[3] The beat and verse 3 from his unreleased single "Deeper" were used to later make his debut Def Jam single "Get At Me Dog". DMX recorded tracks from April 1997 to January 1998 for his debut album. During this time, his guest appearances on Mase's singles "24 Hrs. to Live" and "Take What's Yours", The LOX's single "Money, Power & Respect", and LL Cool J's single "4, 3, 2, 1" created a strong buzz for his up-and-coming album.[4] In February 1998, he released his debut major-label single "Get at Me Dog" on Def Jam Recordings. The single received an RIAA certification of gold.[21] His first major-label album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, which included the single "Ruff Ryders' Anthem", was then 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.[22] In December 1998, he released his album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went multi-platinum.[20] He released his third and best-selling album ... And Then There Was X, on December 21, 1999.[23] It was his third album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Its most popular single, "Party Up (Up in Here)", became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards.[24] The album was certified six-times Platinum, and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards.[4][24] In 2000, DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for "Makes No Difference".[25]

2001–2004: Return to music Edit

After improving his legal situation, DMX returned to the studio to complete his fourth album, The Great Depression. With its release on 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.[4] His fifth album, Grand Champ, released in September 2003, once again debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and included the singles "Where the Hood At?" and "Get It on the Floor". After its release, he informed the public that he planned to retire and that Grand Champ was his final album.[26]

2005–2011: Year of the Dog...Again and The Definition of X Edit

DMX in February 2007

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.[27] It was released on August 1, 2006, and missed the number one Billboard spot by only a few hundred copies.[28] He released two more singles, "Lord Give Me a Sign" and "We in Here". On June 12, 2008, Def Jam Recordings released a compilation of his greatest hits The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter.[4] In 2011, Def Jam released another compilation album, The Best of DMX, which features hit singles including "Where the Hood At?" and "X Gon' Give It to Ya".[29][30] In 2009, DMX claimed he would pursue preaching in Jersey City, New Jersey as well as continue to produce music. He completed a Gospel music album prior to his incarceration. According to MTV, he had semi-retired to study the Bible in an effort to give messages behind the pulpit.[31]

2011–2013: Undisputed Edit

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 titled Undisputed.[32] A video for a new track titled "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 Pictures acquired the catalog of DMX's music and signed DMX to a two-album deal.[33] During a performance at New York's Santos Party House on December 25, 2011, DMX stated that the new album would be titled Undisputed and would be released on March 26, 2012. After numerous delays,[34][35] 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.

2013–2021: Def Jam reunion and Exodus Edit

In 2013, DMX announced he had begun working on his eighth studio album. He collaborated with producers Swizz Beatz[36] and Dame Grease. In December, after regaining his passport, he embarked on a world tour with performances in Bulgaria and Kosovo.[37][38] On January 7, 2015, Seven Arts Music announced that DMX would be releasing Redemption of the Beast the following week; however, close personal friend and recurring collaborator producer/rapper/entrepreneur Swizz Beatz and DMX's management confirmed that this was false.[39][40] On January 13, 2015, Seven Arts Music released Redemption of the Beast, without acquiring a legal artist contract. 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.[41][42]

Long-time collaborator Swizz Beatz stated that two of the collaborators on the album would be Kanye West and Dr. Dre.[43] His 2003 song "X Gon' Give It to Ya" was featured in the 2016 film Deadpool and in its trailers. On June 28, 2016, DMX released a new song titled "Blood Red" and produced by Divine Bars.[44] On January 11, 2017, DMX released a new song produced by Swizz Beats titled "Bain Iz Back".[45] On September 20, 2019, DMX signed a new record deal with Def Jam Recordings, reuniting with the label for the first time since his 2003 album Grand Champ.[46]

DMX's eighth and first posthumous studio album Exodus was released through Def Jam on May 28, 2021.[47]

Personal life Edit

Religion Edit

DMX was a born-again Christian,[48] and stated that he read the Bible every day.[49][50][51] While in jail, 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."[50]

DMX was a transitional deacon and aspired to become ordained as a pastor, stating that he received this call in 2009.[52] In 2016, he gave a sermon at a church in Phoenix, Arizona.[53]

Relationships and children Edit

DMX was the father of 17 children from 11 different women.[54][2] He married his childhood friend Tashera Simmons in 1999 and they were married for 11 years.[55] They had four children together: Xavier (born 1992), Tacoma (born 1999), Sean (born 2002), and Praise Mary Ella (born 2005).[56] In July 2010, after his first of three incarcerations that year, Tashera announced their separation.[57] They remained friends,[55] although in 2016, Tashera accused DMX of missing his $10,000/month child support payment.[58]

DMX had a daughter, Sasha (born 2002), with Patricia Trejo.[59] In 2012, Trejo sued DMX for $1 million in unpaid child support. The case was settled in 2013.[60]

DMX and Monique Wayne, a Maryland resident, fought over her claim that he was the father of her son born in 2004. She sued him for defamation and for child support.[61] After genetic testing proved that DMX was the father, in January 2008, DMX was ordered to pay Wayne $1.5 million, but a judge vacated the judgment in May 2008.[61][62][63][64]

DMX also fathered a child and two daughters in 2008 with Yadira Borrego.[65]

DMX's fifteenth child was born to his fiancée Desiree Lindstrom on August 16, 2016.[65][58][66][67]

On December 5, 2019, DMX's sixteenth and seventeenth children, twin boys, were born to Pebbles Junell.[68]

DMX did not have a will.[69] As a result, legal battles ensued in probate courts following his death.

Finances and bankruptcies Edit

DMX filed for bankruptcy three times.[70] His first filing was on July 30, 2013, citing his child support obligations as his priority claim.[71] The filing was challenged by the United States Trustee Program[72] and was dismissed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on November 11, 2013.[73]

Feud with Ja Rule Edit

During the 1990s, DMX formed a close bond with fellow up-and-coming rappers Jay-Z and Ja Rule. The three collaborated many times and formed a group known as Murder Inc. The group was short-lived due to internal issues between DMX and Jay-Z. After the breakup of Murder Inc., DMX disparaged Ja Rule in interviews, accusing him of being a copycat, drawing comparisons between himself and what he saw as Ja stealing his signature "gruff" style of delivery.[74]

DMX released the diss track "They Want War" on a 2002 DJ Kay Slay mixtape; Ja Rule never directly responded.[74] DMX also released the single "Go to Sleep" with Eminem and Obie Trice as part of the Cradle 2 the Grave soundtrack with numerous lines directed to Ja Rule. However, as time passed and the feud faded into obscurity, DMX said that he wanted to officially bring it to an end when he was released from prison 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."[75] Despite this, DMX and Ja Rule did not officially end their feud until 2009, at VH1's Hip Hop Honors.[76]

Feud with Jay-Z Edit

When DMX partnered with Jay-Z and Ja Rule in Murder Inc., there was a feud between the two, which also contributed to the failure of the group and working together. According to reports, the feud started in the early 1990s after a rap battle between the two, which led to DMX's disdain for Jay-Z.[77][78] Prior to DMX's death, the feud, although it fizzled out over the years, continued on when DMX said in an Instagram video that he wanted to rap battle Jay-Z on Verzuz.[79]

Legal issues Edit

DMX's June 2008 mugshot

DMX was in jail 30+ times[80] for various offenses, including criminal possession of a weapon, robbery, assault, carjacking, animal cruelty, reckless driving, driving under the influence, unlicensed driving, drug possession, probation violation, failure to pay child support, pretending to be a federal agent, and tax evasion.

1986–1988 Edit

DMX was first sent to prison in 1986 after stealing a dog from a junkyard. He served a few months in the juvenile unit of Woodfield Prison in Valhalla, New York. Later this year he was sentenced to 2 years for another crime and sent to Industry Institution (Now named OCFS-Industry Residential Center) in upstate New York.[3] However, in December 1986, just a few days after starting his sentence, he and his cellmate successfully escaped the prison and DMX returned home until his mother forced him to turn himself in and finish his sentence, which he did at the McCormick Juvenile Detention Centre in Brooktondale, New York.[3] Simmons was sent to prison again in 1988 for carjacking, and was later moved to a higher security prison after attempting to extort a fellow inmate for drugs. He was released in the summer of 1988.[3]

1989 Edit

DMX was charged with fourth degree grand larceny (155.30) in January 1989 and served a 9-month sentence. (As shown in police report shown in BET's Ruff Ryders Chronicles documentary. No reference available to cite)

1992 Edit

DMX was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (220.03), no disposition reported (As shown in police report shown in BET's Ruff Ryders Chronicles documentary. No reference available to cite)

1993 Edit

During his time in Baltimore DMX [3] was charged for multiple crimes. The first being in March, with him being charged with criminal sale in the third degree of a controlled substance (220.39), no disposition reported. The second being criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (220.03), no disposition reported. (As shown in police report shown in BET's Ruff Ryders Chronicles documentary. No reference available to cite) It's possible DMX also served time in late 1993 since he claim he is "fresh off a bid" in his 1994 track "Can't Touch Me Kid". This is just theory since there is no evidence to support this claim.

1994-1995 Edit

In late 1994 DMX was sentenced and charged with criminal possession of weapon and served around a year (the exact time served/sentenced is unknown) in Valhalla Correctional Facility. (As shown in police report shown in BET's Ruff Ryders Chronicles documentary. No reference available to cite) [3] (as shown in December 1994 prison letter from DMX in DJ Superiors "The Man Who Walked The Dog" book, No reference available to cite). On his third day there, he spat in the face of a captain and was sentenced to 1 year and 1 month of solitary confinement. He was put in Lockdown Block 3K [3] and sometime in late 1995 finished his sentence.

1998–1999 Edit

  • When officers of the Fort Lee Police Department executed a search of his home in 1999, DMX promptly surrendered himself on weapons possession charges.[81]
  • DMX faced a 1999 animal cruelty charge in Teaneck, New Jersey after a dozen pit bulls were found at his home there;[82] the charge was dismissed after the performer agreed to accept responsibility and record public service announcements for an animal rights group.[83]

2000–2005 Metro NY Edit

  • In 2000, DMX served a 15-day jail sentence for possession of marijuana.[84]
  • 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.[85][86]
  • 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 public service announcements against the dangers of guns and animal abuse.[87]
  • 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.[88][89] He was given a conditional discharge on December 8, 2004, but pleaded guilty on October 25, 2005, to violating parole.[90]
  • On November 18, 2005, DMX was sentenced to 70 days in jail at Riker's Island for violating parole; the lateness charge added a 10-day extension to the original 60-day sentence.[91] DMX was released early (for "good behavior") on December 30, 2005.[92]

2007 Edit

  • In 2007, DMX's home was raided on reports of animal cruelty.[93]

2008–2011 Arizona and California Edit

  • On May 9, 2008, DMX was arrested on drug and animal cruelty charges after attempting to barricade himself inside his home in Cave Creek, Arizona.[83]
  • DMX pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession, theft, and animal cruelty stemming from an August 2007 drug raid as well as the May 2008 arrest, at a hearing on December 30, 2008; he was sentenced to 90 days in jail on January 31, 2009.[94][95][96]
  • On May 22, 2009, DMX entered a plea agreement/change of plea and pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault in jail.
  • After serving four out of six months for violating drug probation, DMX was released from jail on July 6, 2010.[97] 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.[98][99]
  • On November 19, 2010, DMX was arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona on charges of violating probation for a February 24, 2009 aggravated assault on an officer while he was incarcerated. On December 20, 2010, DMX was moved to the Mental Health Unit of the Arizona Alhambra State Prison,[100] and released on July 18, 2011.[101]
  • On August 24, 2011, DMX was arrested for the tenth time in Maricopa County, this time for speeding, recorded at 102 miles per hour (164 km/h) in a 65-mile-per-hour (105 km/h) zone, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license. While DMX admitted to speeding, he claimed he was driving 85 miles per hour (137 km/h).[102]

2013 South Carolina Edit

  • On February 13, 2013, DMX was arrested in Spartanburg, South Carolina for driving without a driver's license.[103]
  • On July 26, 2013, DMX was arrested again in Greenville County, South Carolina and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol as well as driving without a license.[104]
  • On August 20, 2013, DMX was arrested again 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.[105][106][107][108]
  • On November 4, 2013, DMX was again arrested 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 with a suspended license, having an uninsured vehicle, and driving an unlicensed vehicle. He was subsequently released after spending three hours in jail.[109]

2015 New York Edit

  • On April 5, 2015, a man accused DMX of robbing him.[110]
  • On June 26, 2015, DMX was arrested in New York, charged with robbery in Newark, New Jersey and failure to pay child support.[111]
  • On July 14, 2015, DMX was sentenced to six months in jail for failure to pay $400,000 in child support.[112]
  • On December 14, 2015, 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 four children.[113]

2017–2019: Tax fraud conviction Edit

In July 2017, DMX was charged with 14 federal counts of tax fraud.[114] Federal prosecutors charged him with failing to file income tax returns from 2010 to 2015 (a period when he earned at least $2.3 million). DMX pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud in November 2017.[115] DMX was originally free pending sentencing but was remanded to jail in January 2018 after leaving a drug treatment program ordered by the court and relapsing with cocaine and oxycodone.[116] In March 2018, Judge Jed S. Rakoff sentenced DMX to one year in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The court also ordered DMX to pay $2.29 million in restitution to the government.[115] He was released from prison on January 25, 2019.[117]

Health problems and death Edit

Simmons claimed he became addicted to crack cocaine when he was 14 years old, after Ready Ron tricked him into smoking a marijuana cigarette laced with the drug.[118][54]

Simmons entered drug rehabilitation several times including in 2002, 2017, and 2019, when he cancelled concerts.[119][120]

On February 10, 2016, Simmons was found unresponsive in a parking lot at a Ramada Inn in Yonkers, New York.[121] He was resuscitated by first responders and intravenously given Narcan, an opioid-reversal drug; he responded quickly to Narcan and became semi-conscious.[122] Simmons was subsequently rushed to the hospital. A witness said he ingested some type of substance before collapsing, but police found no illegal substances on the property.[121] Simmons stated that it was from an asthma attack.[121]

DMX shrine outside White Plains Hospital, where he died

On April 2, 2021, at approximately 11:00 pm,[123] Simmons was rushed to White Plains Hospital, where he was reported to be in critical condition following a heart attack at his home possibly resulting from a drug overdose.[124][125] The next day, his attorney Murray Richman confirmed Simmons was on life support.[126][127][128] That same night, Simmons suffered cerebral hypoxia as paramedics attempted to resuscitate him for 30 minutes.[129][130][131] Simmons's former manager, Nakia Walker, said he was in a "vegetative state" with "lung and brain failure and no current brain activity".[132][133] His manager, Steve Rifkind, stated Simmons was comatose and that he was set to undergo tests to determine his brain's functionality and his family will "determine what's best from there".[134][135]

On the morning of April 9, 2021, Simmons lost functionality in multiple essential organs, reportedly his liver, kidneys, and lungs,[136] and was pronounced dead shortly after, at age 50. It was revealed on July 8 by the Westchester County Medical Examiner's Office that Simmons' official cause of death was a cocaine-induced heart attack.[137][138]

Legacy Edit

"Throughout his nearly three-decade career, DMX came to embody passion, rawness, and pure emotional honesty like few hip-hop artists ever have, barking his way through hits like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" and "Get at Me Dog" one moment, and repenting and philosophizing on tracks like "Slippin'" the next. His was a decidedly anti-commercial approach, but it worked, and it made him the genre's first new superstar in the wake of the killings of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. To this day, few have been able to reach the heights he did—he's the only rapper to have his first five studio albums debut at no. 1, and he was the first living hip-hop artist to have two projects go platinum in the same year."[139]

The Ringer wrote upon DMX's death

Various celebrities paid tribute through outlets like social media including former NFL player Torrey Smith, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Eminem, Gabrielle Union (who co-starred with DMX in the 2003 film Cradle 2 the Grave, along with Jet Li (who also paid tribute)), Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean,[140] Wyclef Jean,[141] Swizz Beatz (who DMX collaborated with including on the hit single, "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"),[142] Eve and Missy Elliott.[143][144][145]

A "Celebration of Life" took place on April 24, 2021, led by Kanye West's Sunday Service Choir. They performed several songs in honor of DMX. The memorial took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a limited capacity of 1,900. It was livestreamed on DMX's YouTube and Instagram accounts. On the way to Barclays, DMX's casket was carried by a black monster truck with "Long live DMX" painted on the side. A procession of hundreds of motorcyclists, in homage to the hip-hop collective Ruff Ryders, rode from DMX's birthplace of Yonkers, New York to Barclays Center. In between performances, people gave speeches including Eve, Nas, Swizz Beatz and Ruff Ryders founders Joaquin "Waah" Dean & Darin "Dee" Dean. Kanye West was also confirmed to be in attendance of the celebration, according to Variety.[146][147][148]

DMX's funeral ("DMX's Homegoing Celebration") took place in Brooklyn at the Christian Cultural Center on April 25, 2021. It was livestreamed on the BET Network and its YouTube channel. It lasted around five hours to a limited capacity of 2,000 people. DMX's casket was in the color red and featured the word "FAITH" in large printing. It was featured in the front of the room. People who were in attendance included Nas, Lil Kim, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz as well as the pastor of the church, Reverend A.R. Bernard. Louis Farrakhan, a leader of the Nation of Islam, joined the service via Zoom. With the exception of Alicia Keys, Nas and Lil Kim, they all gave speeches. DMX's former wife, Tashera Simmons and Ruff Ryders founders Waah & Dee also gave a speech. There was some controversial testimonies like former Def Jam chief Lyor Cohen, when his video featured an overhead view of a beach and explained how Earl Simmons was a wonderful man while DMX was a gremlin. Additionally, Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons compared his own issues with drug abuse to DMX via video. The homegoing ended with DMX's obituary read on stage and a virtual performance from Faith Evans.[149]

At the funeral, New York City community leader and peacemaker Erica Ford presented DMX's family several citations and proclamations from the New York governor's and Senate's office, including a proclamation from the New York state Senate declaring December 18—DMX's birthday—"Earl 'DMX' Simmons Day." Additional citations came from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Mike Spano of Yonkers (the hometown of DMX). Cuomo had the flag flying over the state capitol on the day of DMX's death presented to his family.[150][151]

Impact Edit

DMX had a significant impact on hip hop music and is considered a "legend" in the genre.[152][153][154][155] He's credited for having "defined 2000s rap"[6] and for being "among the most prolific rappers of his era".[156] He broke and set numerous records.[157] His early work was vastly different from most mainstream hip hop music at the time; while Puff Daddy and other artists of the Bad Boy Records label were at the height of popularity, characterized by their "big-budget videos, lavish party-throwing, and dancefloor-ready music", DMX achieved success with a more dark, aggressive, "rugged",[157] less "marketable" style.

According to an Apple Music radio host: "It was a complete 180...Puff was controlling the clubs; you were watching Bad Boy Records pop bottles, wear Rolexes, Jesus pieces, Coogi sweaters. Then here comes this crazy energetic figure from Yonkers with the Timbs and the bandanas, running around with pitbulls, giving a perspective on the streets that a lot of people weren't familiar with and taking command of what hip-hop didn't look like." DMX's commercially successful violent lyricism helped popularize the horrorcore genre.[7]

Discography Edit

Studio albums

Awards and nominations Edit

Grammy Award

Year Nominated work Award Result
2001 ... And Then There Was X Best Rap Album Nominated[24]
"Party Up (Up in Here)" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated[24]
2002 "Who We Be" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated[24]
2022 "Bath Salts" (with Nas & Jay-Z) Best Rap Song Nominated

American Music Award

Year Nominated work Award Result
2000 DMX Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Won[158]
2001 DMX Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Nominated[159]

MTV Video Music Award

Year Nominated work Award Result
1999 "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" Best Rap Video Nominated[160]
2000 "Party Up (Up in Here)" Best Rap Video Nominated[161]
2001 "No Sunshine" Best Video from a Film Nominated[162]
2002 "Who We Be" Best Rap Video Nominated[163]
Best Breakthrough Video Nominated[163]
2006 "Touch It (Remix)" Best Rap Video Nominated[164]
Best Male Video Nominated[164]

Billboard Music Award

Year Nominated work Award Result
1999 DMX Top R&B Album Artist of the Year Won

Filmography Edit


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Belly Tommy "Buns" Bundy [165]
2000 Romeo Must Die Silk [165]
Backstage Himself [166]
Boricua's Bond Himself
2001 Exit Wounds Latrell Walker [165]
2003 Cradle 2 the Grave Anthony Fait [165]
2004 Never Die Alone King David [166]
2006 Father of Lies Paul Direct-to-DVD[166]
2007 Death Toll The Dog Direct-to-DVD[166]
2008 Last Hour Black Jack Direct-to-DVD[166]
Lords of the Street Thorn Originally titled Jump Out Boys[166]
2009 Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent Nick Direct-to-DVD[166]
The Bleeding Tagg Direct-to-DVD[166]
2013 King Dog Terrell (TJ) Johnson Direct-to-DVD[167]
Blame It on the Hustle Direct-to-DVD[168]
2014 Top Five Himself Cameo appearance[169]
Journey to Sundance Himself Documentary
2017 Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A Bad Story Himself Documentary
2018 Pimp Midnight John [166]
The After Party Himself Cameo
2019 Beyond the Law Detective Ray Munce [166]
2020 Fast and Fierce: Death Race Davie [170]
Chronicle of a Serial Killer Detective White [171]
2021 DMX: Don't Try to Understand Himself Documentary
TBA Fast Vengeance Post-production
Doggmen Cowboy Filming
A Journey to Sundance Himself Documentary

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Street Hoops Himself Vocals
2003 Def Jam Vendetta Himself Voice role and likeness[172]


Year Title Role Notes
1998 The Chris Rock Show Himself [166]
South Park Himself "Chef Aid" (season 2, episode 14)[173]
2000 Moesha Himself "Gimme a Break" (season 5, episode 18)[166]
2000–02 MadTV Himself 2 episodes[174]
2002 Half & Half Himself "The Big Sistah Sans Soul" (season 1, episode 7)[166]
2003 Third Watch Kandid Jones "In Lieu of Johnson" (season 5, episode 92)[166]
Eve Xenon "She Snoops to Conquer" (season 1, episode 3)[166]
$2 Bill Himself "Episode DMX, Method Man and Ludacris"
2004 Chappelle's Show Himself Music guest (season 2, episode 16)[175]
Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself Season 3, episode 57[176]
The Sharon Osbourne Show Himself [177]
2005 Trippin' Himself 2 episodes[178]
2006 DMX: Soul of a Man Himself Documentary[179]
2008 Big Pun: The Legacy Himself Documentary[180]
2011 Lifechangers Himself 2 episodes[181]
2012 Couples Therapy Himself Documentary[182]
2013 Iyanla, Fix My Life Himself "Fix My Rap Star Life" (season 2, episode 1)[183]
2015 Fresh Off the Boat Himself Season 2, episode 9[184]
2017 Black Ink Crew Himself Season 5, episode 14[185]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Other sources cite Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
  2. ^ Until Simmons's death.

References Edit

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  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw Simmons, Earl & Fontaine, Smokey D. (2003), E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX, HarperCollins, p. 7, ISBN 978-0-06-093403-3
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Huey, Steve (June 12, 2007). "DMX Biography". AllMusic.
  5. ^ a b "How DMX found God". Pitchfork. April 21, 2021.
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