Ay yo, ay yo, ay yo
What's My Name?
And I be the best
You see the rest,
They lookin like they need a rest
One More Time,
I'mma spit at you
Some shit that's gon get at you
Be fuc#in with your mind...
Earl Simmons (DMX) Born December 18, 1970, Baltimore, MD. He was raised in Yonkers, in the notorious Yonkers School Street Projects, Simmons became the classic juvenile delinquent, "the kid that other kids would get beatings for playing with," he told Rolling Stone in 1998. He has 5 sisters, 2 half brothers, 1 half sister and a two kids called Xavier and Tacoma, from his wife "Tasherah Simmons". 'X' has two Pit Bulls named 'Bandit & Bobbi', a tattoo on his back that says "One Love Boomer" which is a dedication to his best dog-friend that was run over by a car. Before he used the name Dark Man X, he used the name Divine Master of the Unknown. A husband and devoted father, DMX rarely makes the public overtures that allow others to see the life he came from or the life he lives outside the spotlight.
AT the top of the charts stands the prototypical emcee 'DMX'. Despite being the only man, hip-hop or otherwise to have his first two albums debut at No.1 on the Billboard charts in the same year, DMX's nihilistic demeanour suggests that he is indifferent toward success. In videos and on album and magazine covers, he displays the same attitude held by many rappers far hungrier and poorer than he.
His mother was convinced by school officials to send him to a group home at the age of 7; he ended up spending more than five years in several of them. "There's a period in your childhood when you accept whatever you're given as normal," he says. By his early teens, Earl was familiar with the jail system, thanks to an affinity for robbery. He would eventually spend seven years in prison, according to an interview with Blaze magazine, "not counting group homes and institutions." He also developed an appetite for alcohol and drugs perhaps connected to his a lifelong bout with manic depression.
Somewhere along the line, he found the desire to rap; early influences included the '80s group Whodini. He gave himself the title DMX as a hallmark to his beatboxing skills. In 1991, he won Source magazine's prestigious Unsigned Hype award, which led to a record deal with Ruffhouse and a 1992 single, "Born Loser." But the label's attention was clearly focused on its marquee acts, Cypress Hill and Kriss Kross, and DMX asked to be released from his contract, a request honoured by Ruffhouse.
Through the mid-'90s, DMX built an unstoppable street buzz around New York City by spitting his rhymes at clubs, on street corners, and on mix tapes. He also made guest appearances on other artists' records, including Mic Geronimo's 1997 track "Usual Suspects." In early 1997, with the help of Ruff Ryders Entertainment (which also manages the Lox and Eve), DMX was signed by Def Jam, leading to appearances on LL Cool J's "4,3,2,1" single and album tracks for the Lox, Mase, and John Forte. In early 1998, DMX released his first single, "Get at Me Dog," and the world at large began to hear his unmistakable style, a mixture of plain spoken verses and a coarse, rusty bark, in homage to his lifelong affinity for dogs.
The buzz surrounding DMX was enough to sell 250,000 copies of It's Dark and Hell Is Hot during its first week of release, leading to a surprise No.1 debut on Billboard with little or no advance promotion. It's Dark sat on the Billboard 200 well into 1999, eventually selling more than three million copies. Meanwhile, a second single, "Ruff Ryders Anthem," ruled urban radio that summer, imprinting DMX's growl in the minds of listeners everywhere. He also continued to make high-profile guest appearances, adding verses to Ice Cube's remixed single "We Be Clubbin'," Jayo Felony's "Whatcha Gonna Do," and the Lox's "Money, Power, and Respect." He also participated in Def Jam's "Survival of the Illest" tour with Onyx and the Def Squad (Redman, Erick Sermon, and Keith Murray).
DMX's unrelenting thug personality immediately drew comparisons to the late Tupac Shakur, who originally championed "thug life." But DMX proved that he was different, at least from a personality standpoint, when an exotic dancer accused him of rape shortly after his first album came out. Rather than parade his case before the media, DMX co-operated with authorities and provided a blood sample, quickly leading to a dismissal of the charge. "I think Tupac was a strong-minded black man, and that's what America fears," he told MTV during the controversy.
Later that year, he starred in his first film, Belly, a crime saga directed by video auteur Hype Williams and co-starring Nas, Method Man, and T-Boz from TLC.
In the final month of 1998, DMX released his second album of the year, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, an album that turned out to be full of surprises, beginning with its shocking cover. Holding his hands out to the camera, DMX was covered in blood, as though he had just emerged from some horribly grisly war. The album also featured an unlikely collaboration with Marilyn Manson, "Omen," as well as duets with Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, and the Lox. Flesh of My Flesh easily shot to No.1, beating out releases by Garth Brooks and Celine Dion.
Coupling Flesh with Jay-Z's popular Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life, Def Jam began establishing itself as the most powerful label in hip-hop history, arguably eclipsing previous reigns by Sean "Puffy" Combs' Bad Boy Records and Dr. Dre and Suge Knight's Death Row imprint.
The first half of 1999 proved to be a busy one for DMX. Early on, he joined the Hard Knock Life tour with labelmates Jay-Z, Method Man, Redman, and DJ Clue. The screams and squeals that greeted DMX when he stripped to reveal a sinewy, chiselled frame at each show were proof that he was rap's new sex symbol. Although his asthma forced him to miss one of the dates (which he made up later in the year), DMX proved to be a key figure in hip-hop's most successful recent tour. In addition to his Hard Knock Life tour duties, DMX helped to launch the platinum Ruff Ryders compilation, Ryde or Die Vol. I, paving the way for a rejuvenated Lox and Eve's own solo success.
The final year of the 1900s also brought about some less desirable events. In May, DMX continued his strained relationship with the law when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant concerning a stabbing allegation in Denver, as well as on charges of stabbing a man in Yonkers who allegedly insulted his wife, Tashera. Both cases were eventually dropped. In June, DMX and Tashera were arrested for possessing assault weapons, hollow-tipped bullets, and drug paraphernalia. Finally, DMX was arrested and jailed for two days after swearing during a concert in Trinidad, where public cursing is illegal.
In August, DMX performed at the ill-fated Woodstock '99 festival, then mysteriously dropped out before the start of the Family Values Tour, where he was slated to open for headliners Limp Bizkit. A later run-in with Kurupt of the Dogg Pound led Kurupt to castigate DMX in song with the record "Callin' Out Names."
Despite his mysterious and at times self-destructive behaviour, no explanation has been forthcoming from the 30-year-old rapper. For all of DMX's fame, he shuns the spotlight outside of his promotional duties, preferring to spend time with Tashera, whom he has been with since age 17, and their two children, Xavier and Tacoma. His fans love him nevertheless: His most recent album, … And Then There Was X (originally titled The Man, The Dog, The God), became the third album for the rap superstar to debut at No.1.
Maybe it's because he spoiled us with three unforgettable albums in less than two years, or maybe it was just that voice. Maybe we were fiending for more of the anthemic-like chest beating of "What's My Name" or the testosterone-filled queries of "What Bitches Want", or maybe it was just that growling spitfire delivery we couldn't get out of our head. Maybe it was simply that "Party Up" - that crazy up-tempo club jam that kept us rocking months after the most recent 'And Then There Was X' album levelled off at 5 times platinum.
For whatever the reason, lately we've been thinking about DMX, the artist whose bald head and shoulder to shoulder dog tattoo had gotten kids around the world barking and rhyming in loud bursts of manic, ghetto energy. We've asked where he's been, what he's been doing, wondered when he was coming back on the scene. Well the wait is over, the dog is back on the scene, its time for 'The Great Depression'...
DMX Fan Club |
c/o B.A.R Management
33 South Broadway
Yonkers, New York 10701