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Also Known As: Dmx, Earl Simmons Died:
Born: December 18, 1970 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA Profession: actor, musician

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A formidably talented and somewhat nihilistic performer, menacing, muscular and magnetic rapper DMX put his powerful charisma to good use, starting his film career in 1998 as his recording career was on the ascendancy. Born Earl Simmons in Baltimore, the youngster and his five half-sisters relocated with their mother to Yonkers, New York in the early 1970s. A troubled home life led to problems at school, and a series of group foster homes where young Simmons would be sequestered due to his violent tendencies. While robbery was the way the young man made his living in his teens, a developing talent in the field of music emerged. He started out as the "beat box" in freestyle rap shows, but quickly found that more glory went to the rapper, and pursued that career. Freestyle competitions (like one where he and fellow future superstar Jay-Z were the last men standing) won him notice in the "Unsigned Hype" column in the hip-hop monthly The Source. A founder of Ruff Ryders Entertainment (the group that would go on to include and foster the talents of such stars as Eve and The Lox), DMX was signed to Sony's unrelated Ruffhouse Records in 1992, but lack of promotion left the rapper with the desire to leave...

A formidably talented and somewhat nihilistic performer, menacing, muscular and magnetic rapper DMX put his powerful charisma to good use, starting his film career in 1998 as his recording career was on the ascendancy. Born Earl Simmons in Baltimore, the youngster and his five half-sisters relocated with their mother to Yonkers, New York in the early 1970s. A troubled home life led to problems at school, and a series of group foster homes where young Simmons would be sequestered due to his violent tendencies. While robbery was the way the young man made his living in his teens, a developing talent in the field of music emerged. He started out as the "beat box" in freestyle rap shows, but quickly found that more glory went to the rapper, and pursued that career. Freestyle competitions (like one where he and fellow future superstar Jay-Z were the last men standing) won him notice in the "Unsigned Hype" column in the hip-hop monthly The Source. A founder of Ruff Ryders Entertainment (the group that would go on to include and foster the talents of such stars as Eve and The Lox), DMX was signed to Sony's unrelated Ruffhouse Records in 1992, but lack of promotion left the rapper with the desire to leave his contract. Faced with his fizzled single and hot properties like Cypress Hill already on board, Ruffhouse let DMX out of their deal.

Five years later, Def Jam stepped up to the plate and signed DMX, launching what would become a stellar career. With a fearsome bark and insightful lyrics that largely focused on the internal struggles between good and evil rather than the standard money, cars and "ho's," DMX made 1998 his year, with two multi-platinum albums released (both debuting at Number One on Billboard's charts). That year he also made his feature debut in the hip-hop organized crime drama "Belly," playing "ghetto president" Tommy Brown, a thug about town who grows apart from his aptly named, more intellectual childhood friend and conspirator Sincere (fellow rapper NAS). Unfortunately, great record sales and a strong performance in the film wasn't what kept DMX in headlines, it was his numerous run-ins with the law. An rape charge that was squashed due to his voluntary DNA evidence, gun raps, allegations of stabbings and moving violations followed the musician around. Though nearly every charge was subsequently dropped, retractions don't make headlines the way allegations do. One of his only convictions, which led to a fine and a two-day sentence in a Trinidadian jail, was for using obscenities in his concert performance, a laughable charge to be brought against a rapper.

DMX released the successful "...And Then There Was X," an album that spawned the musician's first Top 40 hit, the remarkably catchy "Party Up (Up in Here)." The multi-platinum album debuted at Number One in December of 1999. A featured role in the Jet Li gangland vehicle "Romeo Must Die" (2000) didn't showcase DMX to his full ability, but it did at least establish that "Belly" wasn't a fluke. The well-made hip-hop tour documentary "Backstage" put the rapper on the big screen again in 2000. While he made headlines for his soap opera-like dealings with a Cheektowaga, New York court and a 15 day jail sentence, DMX's co-starring role in "Exit Wounds" (2001) hit theaters. Playing a street smart crime lord who joins up with Steven Seagal's burnt-out cop to battle police corruption, DMX would prove his star status with a far bigger role than he had in previous efforts. DMX's fourth album, "The Great Depression," which dropped in the summer of 2001, was the rapper's most introspective work yet and showed a definite progression in his development as an artist.

2003 found DMX back working in film, co-starring alongside Jet Li in "Cradle 2 the Grave."

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Top Five (2014)
2.
 Bleeding, The (2011)
3.
 Death Toll (2008)
4.
 Jump Out Boys (2008)
5.
 Never Die Alone (2004)
6.
 Beef (2003)
7.
8.
 Exit Wounds (2001)
9.
 Backstage (2000)
10.
 Romeo Must Die (2000) Silk
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Moved from Baltimore to Yonkers, New York in early childhood
1978:
Sent to first group home at age seven (date approximate)
:
Raised in various state group homes and institutions for troubled boys
1983:
Resided at Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a foster center he revisited at Christmas time 2000
:
Spent much of his youth between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one in and out of jail for robbery
:
Allied with Ruff Ryders, a team that would later produce hip-hop stars including Eve and The Lox
1991:
Heralded in the "Unsigned Hype" column in the hip-hop monthly <i>The Source</i>
:
Signed to the Columbia Records boutique label Ruffhouse
1992:
Released the Ruffhouse Records single "Born Loser"; after its relative failure and Ruffhouse's obvious focus on more successful acts like Cypress Hill, DMX's request to be released from his contract was granted
1997:
Signed to Def Jam Records
1998:
Released multiplatinum debut album "It's Dark and Hell is Hot" in May; released the follow up "Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood" six months later; set a record as the only male artist to have two albums debut at Number One in the same year
1998:
Was accused of rape, but charges were dropped after a blood sample voluntarily provided by the rapper cleared him
1998:
Made feature debut in "Belly"
1999:
His third release "... And Then There Was X" debuted at Number One on the album charts
1999:
Toured with fellow rappers Jay-Z, Method Man, Redman and others as part of the Hard Knock Life Tour; the tour hit Colorado shortly after the Columbine massacre and the rappers donated their profits from the performance to the victims' families
1999:
Was set to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards and was dropped from the lineup for not showing up for rehearsals; replaced by Jay-Z
1999:
Served two days in prison in the island nation of Trinidad, convicted of swearing at a public concert
2000:
Cracked the Top 40 with his anthemic single "Party Up (Up in Here)"
2000:
Played casino owner Silk in the gangland romance "Romeo Must Die", directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
2000:
Had a cameo as himself in an episode of "Moesha" (UPN)
2000:
"Backstage", a documentary chronicling 1999's Hard Knock Life Tour released, featuring candid behind-the-scenes footage
2000:
In keeping with tradition, didn't show up for appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards, replaced by Nelly; later said he contractually obligated to be on the set of "Exit Wounds" in Canada at the time of the ceremony
2000:
Inked a publishing deal with Harper Entertainment for his autobiography, tentatively titled "A Dogz Life"
2000:
Bought a church facing eviction and founded Mary Ella House, a foundation named after his grandmother that houses and supports teenage mothers while they return to school
2001:
After various no-shows and bench warrants, began serving his 15-day sentence for driving without a license, the result of a plea bargain that got him out of jail time for speeding and possession of marijuana charges; slapped with additional contempt of court charge upon his surrender
2001:
Released his fourth album "The Great Depression"
2001:
Co-starred with Steven Seagal in "Exit Wounds", directed by Bartkowiak
2003:
Made his third film with Bartkowiak, "Cradle to the Grave", which also co-starred Jet Li
2003:
Was arrested in June for using profanity during a concert on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis
2004:
Co-starred with David Arquette in the drama "Never Die Alone"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

On his musical evolution: "I used to do the beat box. A friend of mine, he was the rapper, and after we'd be doing a block party or something or a house party, he's getting all the attention and I'd end up with a handful of spit, you know, from doing the beats. And I was like, 'You got to the be rapper'. You know what I'm saying? The rapper's the man." --DMX to MTVNEWS.com, May 20, 1998.

DMX on the violence in his feature film debut "Belly": "There's violence in the movie, but there's a difference between violence and senseless violence, you know what I'm saying? This is not a movie about a serial killer just going around killing for no reason. For every reason that someone's murdered in there. For every act of violence there's a reason behind it. And you can see why. 'OK, that's why he was shot -- for this reason. OK, he had to do that because of this.' It's not just killing for no reason." --to MTVNEWS.com, November 10, 1998.

"He's a mixture of Kurt Cobain and James Dean. He's driving 180 miles in a 15 miles an hour zone." --Def Jam Records president Lyor Cohen on DMX, quoted in Daily News, January 26, 1999.

DMX on his image: "I think I have the same energy level [as rock stars]. IT's a speak-for-the-people image. F--- the rules. Everybody wants that kind of rebel." --quoted to Daily News, December 19, 1999.

"When I didn't have a dollar, I didn't know if I was good. Now I see that I am. I see it from all the love I get." --DMX to Daily News, December 19, 1999.

DMX on his third album, ".,, And Then There Was X": "Once again there has to be a conversation with the devil, another conversation with the Lord and another prayer ... if it ain't broke, don't fix it." -- to GQ, February 2000.

Surprising Rolling Stone writer Toure with his friendliness to strangers of all types during a jaunt through the streets of Los Angeles, DMX comments on the difference between his perceived persona and his real-life demeanor: "They think I'm a dawg, but I'm a gentle giant." --quoted in the April 13, 2000 profile.

DMX on his music and message to fans: "Take it for what it's worth. My birth was a blessing. Sent to live and die on Earth; it's a blessing. We each have a star; all you have to do is find it. Once you do--everyone sees it--you won't be blinded. They'll say that you're bright and that you have a future, but when you turn your back, the same cats will shoot [you]. I look at both sides of the fence and look at what you do, when you do, when you talk and see what you really meant." --quoted in "Blood Rights", a December 8, 2000 interview with Sway on MTVNEWS.com.

DMX was slated to take over the mantle of the Crow in the long-awaited fourth installment, "The Crow: Lazarus" playing a rap singer cut down in a drive-by who returns from the grave to collect his revenge. However, in late 2000 the project was dropped. It was briefly going to be an independent (not part of the Crow series) film and Eminem was discussed to take over DMX's role, but the project soon died away all together.

On June 24, 2004, DMX was charged with criminal impersonation of a federal agent and attempted robbery after being arrested at Kennedy Airport in New York

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Tashera Simmons. Raised Muslim; together since c. 1987.

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Mary Ella Hollaway. Deceased; DMX dedicated his first album to her.
uncle:
Ray Copeland. Manager. Born c. 1965; manages DMX.
son:
Xavier Simmons. Born c. 1993; mother, Tashera Simmons.
son:
Tacoma Simmons. Born in 1998; mother, Tashera Simmons.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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