Real Name: Earl Simmons
D.O.B.: December 18th, 1970 Baltimore, Maryland
Label: Def Jam Recordings
Earl Simmons was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the second of three children. He grew up in the housing projects on School Street, in Yonkers, New York. A neighbourhood freestyler asked Simmons to beatbox for him during an impromptu performance. Simmons took the professional name DMX, after the Oberheim DMX, an early drum machine. He later adapted the name to mean "Dark Man X". He honed his skills during a stint at a group home. As a teenager, Simmons was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He spent much of his adolescence and early adulthood in and out of jail.
Simmons had already established a reputation on the underground scene long before any record label signed him as a teenager. He battled rappers from town to town and had his own group called Gangsters of the Ghetto (G.O.G) with his best friend DJ Superior and Big Jinx the third member of the team. They did a lot of live shows in the legendary school'12 and around Yonkers. This Crew created tons of mix CD's in the early 90's. Later Simmons was first signed to Columbia Records in 1992. He released one single, "Born Loser", which did not get much airplay. He was soon dropped from the label. This would open doors to bigger and better opportunities.
Off a recording with Ron G's mixtape 23, he performed on the track, "Whatcha Gonna Do" which had already generated a street buzz. Def Jam's Island A&R man, Irv Gotti (later of Murder Inc) passed the recording onto Island's boss, Lyor Cohen who invited DMX to perform a freestyle for him at a Yonkers studio. DMX was signed with Def Jam and bonded with management company, Ruff Ryders.
After the Def Jam releases of his first three singles, the very radio unfriendly slams, "Where My Dogz At" lyrics of which DMX flatly refused to tone down the horror for MTV play, "Stop Being Greedy" and "Get At Me Dog" his fame status rose from underground to commercial just in time for his début album drop, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot released May 19th, 1998. The next month DMX was wisked away for a monthlong tour topping the bill of Survival of the Illest Tour joining fellow roster mates, Onyx and Def Squad featuring Erick Sermon, Redman and Keith Murray. Before the year ended, DMX saw his second album drop.
Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood hit the streets December 22nd, 1998 becoming the best-selling album in the nation at 670,000 copies during Christmas week, knocking out country music icon, Garth Brook's Double Live album. This also plastered DMX as the first artist in Soundscan history to have two number one albums in the same year.
In 1999, during the 'Hard Knock Life' blockbuster tour in Denver, a warrant was issued for DMX's arrest in connection with a stabbing and shooting of a man that attended one of the concerts, of which Simmons was later cleared. By December 21st that year DMX dropped ...And Then There Was X another super-slam for Def Jam. The first album single, the club banger "What's My Name" received heavy rotation on both radio and television. The album sold incredibly well, eventually selling six million units (roughly 698,000 in its first week) making it the best-selling album to date for DMX. It also reached #1 on the Billboard chart yet again, firmly ranking DMX within hip hop's only artist to have all 3 of their albums reach the #1 spot (eventually increasing it to 5.)
By May, 2000 DMX had sold a staggering ten million records since his '98 début standing him at multiplatinum status. He also partook in two of the most successful hip-hop tours ever: the Hard Knock Life Tour and the sold-out Ruff Ryders/Cash Money Tour with fellow Ruff Ryder stable-mates, Eve and The Lox. During that same month of May DMX was brought up on accusations of assaulting a man from his neighbourhood in Yonkers for allegedly harassing his wife, leaving her with a knife wound in the neck. Once again charges against DMX were dropped. Further and more serious charges were brought on DMX when his uncle and also personal manager was accidentally shot in the neck at a New Jersey hotel. DMX's home was searched by police and fresh charges of animal cruelty, weapons and drug possession against the rapper and his wife; he eventually plea-bargained down to fines, probation, and community service.
DMX's fourth and fifth albums, The Great Depression and Grand Champ both hit made top billin' on the national charts for a combined 3x platinum in sales. This furthered his position held as the only artist in history to have 5 albums, and entire album catalogue début at number one. After his fifth release, he expressed to the the public his plans to retire from recording, touring as an artist and that Grand Champ would be his final album. He later ended his brief retirement and announced his plans to record another album.
During this period DMX found himself plagued with numerous legal battles in court for charges ranging from multiple drug possesion, DUI road and vehicle violations, animal cruelty to pitbulls at his property, foul language in concert, weapons and an in-flight disturbance between London and New York. Throughout the rest of his career to date, DMX seems to constantly attract negative attention from law enforcement. As of late 2007 DMX is now under further charges of animal cruelty, weapons and drug abuse. However, DMX has managed to harness this publicity and turn it to his favour for further album releases.
As of 2006 DMX had left hip-hop recording giant, Def Jam for Sony where upon he released his sixth album, Year of the Dog... Again. This was the end of his reign of number one album débuts, as he settled for second spot by only a few thousand sales. The album currently sits at Gold status. DMX is concentrating the near future to resolving legal proceedings against him. Although a 2008 album is slated for release.
- 1998 It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (Chart position: #1) Last RIAA certification: 4x Platinum
- 1998 Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (Chart position: #1) Last RIAA certification: 3x Platinum
- 1999 ...And Then There Was X (Chart position: #1) Last RIAA certification: 6x Platinum
- 2001 The Great Depression (Chart position: #1) Last RIAA certification: 2x Platinum
- 2003 Grand Champ (Chart position: #1) Last RIAA certification: Platinum
- 2006 Year of the Dog...Again (Chart position: #2) Last RIAA certification: Gold
- 2008 The Resurrection of Hip Hop (unreleased)
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