DMX was born on December 18, 1970, to Joe Barker and Arnett Simmons (who became pregnant with him when she was nineteen years of age). There are conflicting reports as to where he was born, with some saying he was born in Baltimore, MD and other saying he was born in Mount Vernon, NY. He was the second child born; his mother had a two year old daughter from a previous relationship. He was raised as a Jehovah's Witnesses. At a young age his Mother moved them to the infamous School Street projects in Yonkers where DMX would learn his trade of robbing. As a youth, he committed crimes such as robbery and spent much of his adolescence in and out of juvenile detention and youth group homes. DMX always looked down on street level drug dealers and found it easier to simply rob the dealers of their earnings at the end of the day. While always close to his uncles and a few close friends he found his true companionship in the many stray dogs that he befriended. Throughout this period, DMX viewed hip-hop as an escape from his troubles; he enjoyed beatboxing, turntablism, and eventually, rapping.
1998: 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 second rapper in history (following Tupac Shakur) to have released two albums in the same year, which both debuted at number one on Billboard 200.
1999 – 2000: ...And Then There Was X
DMX released his third and best-selling album (as of January 2012), ...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 – 2002: The Great Depression
After improving his legal situation, 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 the top of 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: 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 - 2007: Year of the Dog...Again
DMX signed to Columbia Records in January 2006. He recorded what would be 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 lost the number one Billboard spot by only one-hundred sales. He released two more singles, "Lord Give Me A Sign" and "We In Here"
On June 12, 2008, DMX 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".
On October 11, 2011 DMX performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards. He stated that he has been working "nonstop, every day" on the new album, and plans to release it before December of 2012. 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. This was later confirmed by DMX (via his official Twitter account, DMX (rapper) on Twitter), where he also confirmed that its first single is scheduled for release in January 2012. A video for a new track entitled "Last Hope" was released via Internet on September 24, 2011. DMX has not confirmed whether the track will appear on his upcoming album. 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.
Seven Arts Entertaiment Inc. recently purchased David Michery's music assets, which included some of DMX's music. DMX's had announced that Undisputed will be released on March 27, 2012. However it was later revealed that DMX did not plan to release the album on that date, and that date was one forced upon him by the record label. The release date for the album is now set for June 26th 2012.
2013–2021: Def Jam reunion and Exodus
In 2013, DMX announced he had begun working on his eighth studio album. He collaborated 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.
Long-time collaborator Swizz Beatz stated that two of the collaborators on the album would 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 titled "Blood Red" and produced by Divine Bars. On January 11, 2017, DMX released a new song produced by Swizz Beatz titled "Bain Iz Back". 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.
DMX's eighth and first posthumous studio album Exodus was released through Def Jam on May 28, 2021.
DMX was a born-again Christian, and stated that he read the Bible every day. 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." DMX was a transitional deacon in the Christian Church and aspired to become ordained as a pastor, stating that he received this call in 2009. In 2016, he gave a sermon at a church in Phoenix, Arizona. In April 2020, he held an online Bible study and asked people to accept Jesus as their lord and savior.
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 1992), Tacoma (born 1999), Sean (born 2002), and Praise Mary Ella (born 2005). In July 2010, after his first of three incarcerations that year, Tashera announced their separation. They remained friends, although in 2016, Tashera accused DMX of missing his $10,000/month child support payment.
DMX had extramarital affairs during his marriage to Tashera, some of which produced children. He had a daughter, Sasha (born 2002), with Patricia Trejo. In 2012, Trejo sued DMX for $1 million in unpaid child support. The case was settled in 2013. 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. 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 judgment in May 2008. DMX also fathered a child in 2008 and fathered two children with ex-girlfriend Yadira Borrego. In 2009, his daughter Sonovah Junior was born. In 2011, his daughter Aaliyah, named after his close friend, Aaliyah, was born. His fifteenth child, Exodus Simmons, was born to his fiancée, Desiree Lindstrom, on August 16, 2016.
Finances and bankruptcies
DMX earned $2.3 million from his songs between 2010 and 2015.
He also filed for 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 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. DMX also released the singe "Go to Sleep" with Eminem and Obie Trice as apart 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." Despite this, DMX and Ja Rule did not officially end their feud until 2009, at VH1's Hip Hop Honors.
Feud with Jay-Z
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. 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.
DMX was in jail 30 times for various offenses, including 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.
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 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.
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 Metro NY
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.
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 at Riker's Island 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.
In 2007, DMX's home was raided on reports of animal cruelty.
2008–2011 Arizona and California
On May 9, 2008, DMX was arrested on drug and animal cruelty charges after attempting to barricade himself inside his Cave Creek, Arizona home.
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.
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. 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 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, and released on July 18, 2011.
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).
2013 South Carolina
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 with a suspended license, having an uninsured vehicle, and driving an unlicensed vehicle. He was subsequently released after spending three hours in jail.
2015 New York
On April 5, 2015, a man charged DMX of robbing him.
On June 26, 2015, DMX was arrested in New York, charged with robbery in Newark, New Jersey, and failure to pay child support.
On July 14, 2015, DMX was sentenced to 6 months in jail for failure 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 four 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
Simmons said 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. He also said that he had bipolar disorder.
Simmons entered drug rehabilitation several times including in 2002, 2017, and 2019, when he canceled concerts.
On February 10, 2016, Simmons was found unresponsive in a Ramada Inn parking lot in Yonkers, New York. He was resuscitated by first responders and intravenously given Narcan, an opioid-reversal drug; he responded quickly to Narcan and became semi-conscious. 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. Simmons stated that it was from an asthma attack.
On April 2, 2021, at approximately 11:00 pm, 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. 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 the morning of April 9, 2021, Simmons lost functionality in multiple essential organs, reportedly his liver, kidneys and lungs, 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.
Upon DMX's death, The Ringer wrote, "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."
Various celebrities paid tribute through outlets like social media including former NFL star 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), Swizz Beatz (who DMX collaborated with including on the hit single, "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"), Eve and Missy Elliott.
A “Celebration of Life” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center 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, N.Y. with a limited capacity of 1,900. It was live-streamed 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 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.
DMX's funeral ("DMX’s Homegoing Celebration") took place in Brooklyn at the Christian Cultural Center on April 25, 2021. It was live-streamed 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 & 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 overheard view of a beach and explained how Earl Simmons was a wonderful man while DMX was a gremlin. As well as Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons, when he 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.
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 Dec. 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.
• born on December 18, 1970, in Baltimore, MD
• multi-Platinum American rapper and actor
Thank you to the New York Tristate Owner and Operators Association for your continued support of the Black Community.
All featured faces of Black History are not captured in the 2022 theatre production.