Grammy-award nominated rapper and actor-Earl Simmons,popularly known as DMX, was born in 1970 as a second child to Arnett Simmons and to Joe Barker in Mount Vernon, NY. In his early life, Simmons had learned trade of robbing and committed several crimes of robbery. He had spent most time as an adolescent at youth group homes and juvenile detention. He has always found it easier to rob from street level dealers of the drug. He has remained close to very few relatives but stray dogs have remained his true companions. Earl Simmons has though achieved excellence as a song writer, actor and a rapper, however, all these has helped him to escape from troubles. He had acted in several films including “Last Hour”, “Cradle 2 the Grave”, “Exit Wounds”, “Romeo Must Die”, and “Belly”. Some of his recent films include “Pimp”, “Beyond the Law”, “Fast and Fierce: Death Race” and “Chronicle of a Serial Killer”. He was also starred in “DMX: Soul of a Man”, a reality television series that was aired through “BET cable television network”. However, other television serials include “Moesha”, “Half & Half”, “Chappelle’s Show”, “Trippin”, “Life Changers”, “Black Ink Crew”, “Couples Therapy”, “Big Pun: The Legacy”, “Iyanla, Fix My Life”, “Fresh Off the Boat”, “The Sharon Osbourne Show”, and “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. DMX also showed his skills as a writer where he published “E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX” in which he has stated his memories and autobiography. 

In his early career in 1984, at the age of 14, he started writing and performing his own lyrics at local recreation center. Later in 1988, he dedicated his free time in prison for carjacking to write lyrics. He also met and rap with K-solo. After releasing from prison, he produced and sold his own mixtapes in which he had recorded rapping over instrumentals of different songs sung by others. He sold his mixtapes himself on street corners that has helped him to create local fan base in his home city. His skills were praised as unsigned hip-hop artists in The Source magazine in 1992. In the following year, he signed with Columbia Records to release “Born Loser” debut single. In 1994, he released “Make a Move”, a second single. He appeared as a guest alongside Mic Geronimo, Ja Rule, Jay-Z. 

During 1996-1998, DMX emerged as a star. He recorded several tracks for his debut album and made appearances on LL Cool J’s single, The LOX’s single and Mase’s singles which had created buzz for him. The year 1998 brought him more success as he received RIAA gold certification on “Get at Me Dog” a major-label single. In the same year, he released “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot”, his first major label album that debuted at number one on chart of Billboard 200 and sold more than 5million copies. In the end of the same year, he released, “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”, his second album that went multi-platinum and was again number one on chart of Billboard 200. In the end of 1999, he released, “And Then There Was X”, his third album which is his one of the bestselling album that maintained his position as number on chart of Billboard 200. The third album was nominated at 2001 Grammy Awards for ‘Best Rap Album’ and was certified platinum six times. The success has improved his legal situation which encouraged him to release “The Great Depression”, fourth album in 2001. It was again ranked number one on Billboard 200 and received triple Platinum certification. He released “Grand Champ”, fifth album in 2003 which again ranked one on Billboard 200 charts which was his consecutive success for his albums. 

Though, the fifth album was his last album as he had planned to retire; however, in 2006 DMX signed to Columbia Records and recorded an album which was released in the same year. However, this album did not ranked number one on Billboard 200. In 2009, DMX’s greatest compilation hit, “The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter”, was released by Jam Recordings followed by another compilation hit of “The Best of DMX” in 2011. DMX completed his Gospel music album before his imprisonment and worked on his seventh album “nonstop, every day” which was titled “Undisputed” later and was released in 2012 after numerous delays. He released his track “Last Hope” through internet in September 2011. In the following year, DMX signed two-album deal with Seven Arts Pictures ho had also acquired DMX’s music catalog. He then worked on eighth studio album in 2013 and collaborated with producers Dame Grease and Swizz Beatz. However, the deal with Seven Arts Pictures was misused and several legal actions were taken against them for unauthorized release of DMX’s “Redemption of the Beast” in 2015. During 2016 and 2017, he released new songs, i.e., “Blood Red” and produced by Divine Bars; and “Bain Iz Back” by Swizz Beats. Later in 2018, he reunited with Def Jam Recordings and signed record deals. He collaborated with Skyla Talon (Blackburner) for his another album “Dog Eats Rabbit” which was released in 2017. In 2020, he released a pair of EPs, X Is Coming and Dark Man X, which was failed to materialize. 

Earl Simmons was though a successful and a legendary rapper with acting and writing skills, however, his escape from imprisonments and troubles have made him addicted to drugs since he was 14 years old. His personality also had bipolar disorder where the addiction to drugs has put his life in danger. He entered rehabilitation several times, i.e., in 2002, 2017 and 2019, but his addiction has taken his life. On April 2, 2021, he was rushed to White Plains Hospital due to critical condition of heart attack resulting from drug overdose. He remained in critical condition and before his death on 9th April 2021, he suffered from cerebral hypoxia, brain failure, kidney failure, liver failure and lung failure. The famous rapper with an impressive skills of writing and acting died at the age of 50.

Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola

London, UK