Earl Simmons (born December 18, 1970), better known by his stage names DMX and Dark Man X, is an American rapper and actor. In 1999, DMX released his best-selling album …And Then There Was X, which featured the hit single « Party Up (Up in Here) ». He has acted in films such as Belly, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 The Grave, and Last Hour. In 2006, he starred in the reality television series DMX: Soul of a Man, which was primarily aired on the BET cable television network. In 2003, DMX published a book of his memoirs entitled, E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. DMX has sold over 30 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling hip-hop artists of all time.
DMX was born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon and was raised in Yonkers, New York. Simmons went through an abusive childhood that included stays at group homes and frequent arrests.
DMX began his music career in 1988 as a beatboxer. In 1991, Gabriel Grevenstuk from The Source magazine praised DMX in his « Unsigned Hype » column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. His stage name was tribute to an instrument he used in the 1980s, the Oberheim DMX drum machine and later was interpreted as « Dark Man X ».
A year later, Columbia Records signed DMX to their subsidiary label Ruffhouse, who released his debut single « Born Loser ». The single did not get much airplay. The label eventually agreed to release DMX from their contract. He released his second single, « Make a Move » in 1994, and made a guest appearance on LL Cool J’s single « 4, 3, 2, 1″ in 1997. Additional guest spots on Mase singles « 24 Hrs. to Live » and « Take What’s Yours », and The LOX’s single « Money, Power & Respect » created a strong buzz. DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for « Makes No Difference ».
1996–98: 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 …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.
2001–02: 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 number one on 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.
2005–08: Year of the Dog…Again and The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter
DMX signed to Columbia Records in January 2006. He recorded 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 ».
In 2009, DMX claimed he would pursue preaching in Jersey City, New Jersey but will also continue to produce music. He completed a Gospel album prior to his incarceration. According to MTV, he has semi-retired to study the Bible more in an effort to give messages behind the pulpit.
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 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. This was later release on his ‘Weight In EP’. Undisputed was to be released August 28, 2012.
Seven Arts Entertainment Inc. recently purchased David Michery’s music assets, which included some of DMX’s music. DMX’s had announced thatUndisputed 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 was set for June 26, 2012. However, DMX announced in Detroit, MI. on June 9, 2012, that due to the record label that is supposed to release the album, the date will be pushed back again. It was then scheduled for release August 28, 2012. Later, an official press release from the label pushed back the date to September 11, 2012. Meanwhile, DMX performed at the 2012 13th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos at Cave In Rock, IL taking place on August 8-August 12. He will also be making appearances at the 2012 Rock The Bells Festival Series at San Bernardino August 18–19, and Holmdel, New Jersey September 1–2. The album was finally released on September 11, 2012 and featured production from; Swizz Beats and J.R. Rotem along with a guest appearance from MGK.