9th April 2021 is a day that will down in history as Music industry lost one of his finest, DMX.
In this article, our columnist, Sani Michael Omakoji Xrays his life from early time to death.
Earl Simmons a.k.a DMX was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on December 18, 1970, the son of 19-year-old Arnett Simmons and 18-year-old Joe Barker, and was raised in nearby Yonkers. Earl was the second child of Arnett, who had given birth to a daughter, Bonita, two years prior, as well as one daughter, Shayla, and two stillborn sons after Earl. Barker did not want Simmons to keep custody of Earl and cut off almost all contact with the family as soon as Earl was born.
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.He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness but became disillusioned with the faith after his mother rejected a possible settlement stemming from an incident where he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street and in which he suffered minor injuries. A while after the incident, a representative of the insurance company representing the driver who had hit him went to his house to try to reach an agreement with his family so that they would not sue. He claims his family could have received as much as $10,000 from the legal settlement but that his mother refused to open a case as she claimed the faith taught them to be self-sufficient.
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 in Yonkers, New York. At the end of the fifth grade, Simmons was kicked out of school and sent to the Julia Dyckman Andrus Children’s Home for 18 months. When he was 14, Simmons began wandering the streets of Yonkers to escape his mother’s abuse and eventually found comfort in befriending stray dogs that walked the streets at night.
Shortly after he began doing this, his mother once again sent him to a boys’ home. During his stay at the boys’ home, Simmons bonded with other students from New York over their shared love of hip hop music. 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, impressed with Simmons’ beatboxing skills, 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 “Dark Man X”.
1991–1996: Career beginning
DMX got his start in the music industry in 1984, when he beatboxed for Ready Ron. After serving time in prison for stealing a dog, he began writing his own lyrics and performing at the local recreation center for younger children. After going to prison in 1988 for carjacking, he began taking rapping more seriously, dedicating almost all of his free time to writing lyrics and also meeting and rapping with K-Solo while incarcerated.
When DMX was released that summer, he began producing and selling his own mixtapes where he rapped over instrumentals from other songs and sell them on street corners, which helped him build a local fan base all over New York.In 1991, The Source magazine praised DMX in its Unsigned Hype column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. In 1992, Columbia Records signed DMX to their subsidiary label Ruffhouse, which released his debut single “Born Loser”. 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.
1996–2000: Signing with Def Jam and commercial success. DMX recorded tracks from September 1996 to January 1998, for his debut album. During this time, his guest spot 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 the then-unsigned rapper. In February 1998, DMX released his debut major-label single, “Get at Me Dog”, on Def Jam. 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 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. In December 1998, DMX released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went multi-platinum.
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 (Up in Here)”, became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, and was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards. The album was certified six-times Platinum, and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards. In 2000, DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for “Makes No Difference”.
2001–2004: Legal troubles and return to music
DMX in 2001. 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.
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 was his final album.
2005–2011: Year of the Dog…Again and The Definition of X. 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 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.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”.
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 Pictures acquired the 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.
2013–2021: New albums and Def Jam Reunion
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.[
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. 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 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.
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.
On June 28, 2016, DMX released a new song which was produced by Divine Bars which was titled “Blood Red”.
On January 11, 2017, DMX released a new song produced by Swizz Beats entitled “Bain Iz Back”.
On September 20, 2019, DMX signed a new record deal with Def Jam, reuniting with the label for the first time since his 2003 album Grand Champ.
DMX was a Christian, and stated that he read 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 was a transitional deacon in the Christian Church and aspired to become ordained as a pastor, stating that he received this call in 2012.
Relationships and children
DMX was the father of 15 children from 9 different women. He married his childhood friend Tashera Simmons in 1999 and they were married for 11 years. They had four children together: Xavier (born 1993), Tacoma (born 2000), Praise Mary Ella (born 2005), and Sean (born 2003). In July 2010, after his first of three incarcerations that year, Tashera announced their separation. They remained friends, although in 2016, Simmons accused DMX of missing his $10,000/month child support payment.
DMX had multiple extramarital affairs during his marriage to Simmons, some of which produced children, although details are scarce. 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 repeatedly for defamation and for child support. After genetic testing proved that DMX was indeed the father, in January 2008, DMX was ordered to pay Wayne $1.5 million, but a judge vacated the the judgment in May 2008. DMX also fathered a child in 2008 and fathered two children with ex-girlfriend Yadira Borrego. His fifteenth child, Exodus Simmons, was born to his fiancé, Desiree Lindstrom, on August 16, 2016.
Finances and bankruptcies
DMX earned $2.3 million from his songs between 2010 and 2015. DMX filed bankruptcy three times.His first filing was on July 30, 2013, citing his child support obligations as his priority claim. The filing was challenged by the United States Trustee Program program and was dismissed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on November 11, 2013.
Feud with Ja Rule
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.
DMX released a diss track, “They Want War”, on a 2002 DJ Kay Slay mixtape; Ja Rule never directly responded. 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.” Despite this, DMX and Ja Rule did not officially end their feud until 2009, at VH1’s Hip Hop Honors.
DMX’s June 2008 mugshot. DMX was first sent to prison in 1986 after stealing a dog from a junkyard. He was sentenced to two years in the juvenile unit of Woodfield Prison in Valhalla, New York. However, just weeks after starting his sentence, he and his cellmate successfully escaped the prison and DMX returned home to New York 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. 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.
Following his emergence as a public figure, DMX’s multiple arrests were for various 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 after a dozen pit bulls were found at his home there; the charge was dismissed after the performer agreed to accept responsibility and record public service announcements for an animal rights group.
2000–2005. 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 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.
2008–2011. 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.
On August 24, 2011, DMX was arrested for speeding, recorded as 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 claims he was driving 85 miles per hour (137 km/h).
On February 13, 2013, DMX was arrested in Spartanburg, South Carolina for driving without a driver’s license.
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.
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.
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 under suspension, having an uninsured vehicle, and not having a licensed vehicle. He was subsequently released after spending three hours in jail.
2015. On June 26, 2015, DMX was arrested in New York, charged for robbery in Newark, New Jersey, and outstanding child support.
On July 14, 2015, DMX was sentenced to 6 months in jail for failing to pay $400,000 in child support.
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 4 children.
2017–2019: Tax fraud conviction
In July 2017, DMX was charged with 14 federal counts of tax fraud. 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. 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. 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. He was released from prison on January 25, 2019.
Health issues and death
DMX had spoken openly about his addiction to crack cocaine, which began when he was 14 years old after Ready Ron tricked him into smoking a marijuana cigarette laced with the drug. He also said that he had bipolar disorder.
On February 10, 2016, DMX was found unresponsive in a Ramada Inn parking lot in Yonkers, New York. He was resuscitated by first responders and given Narcan before being rushed to the hospital. A witness said he ingested some type of substance before collapsing, but police found no illegal substances on the property. DMX stated that it was from an asthma attack.
On April 2, 2021, at approximately 11:00 pm, Simmons was rushed to a hospital in White Plains, New York, where he was reported to be in critical condition following a heart attack at his home resulting from a drug overdose. The next day, his attorney, Murray Richman, confirmed Simmons was on life support. That same night, Simmons suffered cerebral hypoxia (oxygen deprivation to his brain) as paramedics attempted to resuscitate him for 30 minutes. Simmons’ former manager, Nakia Walker, said he was in a “vegetative state” with “lung and brain failure and no current brain activity”. 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”.
On April 9, 2021, Simmons had reportedly lost functionality in multiple essential organs, including his lungs, liver, and kidneys. Simmons was pronounced dead later that day, aged 50.