Earl Simmonsーbetter known as his stage name DMX, made himself known to the world with his debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998). Growing up, his childhood was the opposite of idyllic; although he initially lived in group homes, he later started to survive on the streets by means of robbery as a teen. After several run-ins with the law during his youth, DMX eventually found his saving grace in the form of hip hop music. Taking up beatbox, he later began rapping under the name of DMXーDigital Drum Machine. Over the next couple of years, he strived to make a name for himself in the music world, participating in a number of freestyle battles. By the time he was twenty two, the aspiring rapper had successfully landed a recording contract with Columbia Records. In 1993, DMX released his debut single, Born Loser. Unfortunately, his career with the label never took off and he was subsequently dropped from the contract. Determined to put his career back on track, he later forged a deal with Def Jam Records in 1997.
Finally in the summer of 1998, DMX put out his debut studio album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. A number one hit, it shot straight to the top of several US Charts, propelling the artist into superstardom in the process. Before long, the album had gone four times Platinum in the United States. As if that wasn’t enough, he soon released his second full length album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood later that same year. Another chart topper, the RIAA certified disc has since sold over three million copies across the country. To date, DMX has released a total of seven studio albums, four compilation albums, one mixtape and twenty two singles. Some of his hottest R&B hits include Get at Me Dog (Feat. Sheek Louch), What’s My Name?, X Gon’ Give It To Ya, and Who We Be.
Recognized for his monumental talent, DMX’s musical endeavours have garnered him much recognition in the industry. A three-time Grammy Award nominee, he has also received four MTV Video Music Awards and two American Music Awards. Outside of rapping, the artist has also appeared in various of films throughout the past two decades. In 1998, DMX made his big screen debut in the crime movie, Belly where he played opposite of Nasir Jones. Some of this other works on film include Romeo Must Die (2000), Exit Wounds (2001), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003), and Never Die Along (2004). More recently in 2015, he made a small cameo in the comedy series, Fresh Off the Boat.
What has the noted rapper been up to since then? Can we expect any new releases from him this upcoming year? What happened to DMX? Where is he now in 2018?
DMX’s Early Life and Music Beginnings
Born on December 18, 1970 in Mount Vernon, New York, DMX (Birth Name: Earl Simmons) is the son of Joe Barker and Arnett Simmons. When he was a young boy, he moved to the suburb of Yonnkers with his parents. Despite this, his childhood was far from idyllic; troubled and often violent, he spent much of his youth living between group homes.
Before long, he started to live on the streets, surviving by means of robbery, which led him to many run-ns with the law. Fortunately, DMX eventually found solace in the form of hip hop. Starting out as a DJ, he gradually moved his way toward rapping on stage. Adopting his present stage nameーDMXー”Digital Drum Machine”, he wasted no time in making a name for himself in the local freestyle scene. By 1991, his talents were highlighted in a column in The Source Magazine.
The following year, the aspiring rapper successfully forged a recording deal with Columbia Records. Under the label, he released his debut single, Born Loser. Due to a lack of promotion however, the record did not take off; DMX was subsequently dropped from the contract. Although he later came out with another single in 1994, a conviction of drug possession soon sent him to prison. Wanting to rebuild his music career after being released, he recorded a demo tape which allowed him to attain a recording deal with Def Jam Records. In early 1998, DMX released his debut single, Get at Me Dog, which would later be included in his full-length album. Much more successful than his earlier efforts, it eventually peaked at number thirty nine on the Billboard 200 and has since gone Gold in the US.
DMX’s Career as a Recording Artist
On May 12, 1998, the American rapper came out with his debut studio album entitled, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. Recorded in various studios in New York and Maryland, the hip hop disc contained nineteen tracks; its production was handled by Swizz Beatz, Irv Gotti, P.K., and Dame Grease. Over an hour in length, some of the numbers from the album included How’s It Goin’ Down, Stop Being Greedy, For My Dogs, Damien, Let Me Fly, Look Thru My Eyes, and Niggaz Done Started Something. Supported by four singles, the album also featured guest appearances from Sheek Louch, Big Stan, Drag-On, Loose, and Kasino.
Met with widespread acclaim, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot entered the US Billboard 200 at number one. A hot-selling record, it quickly sold over 251,000 copies within the first week of release. Noted for his distinctive aura, DMX garnered countless glowing reviews for the work that he put into the album; for instance, The Source and Q Magazine both gave it an impressive four star rating. Considered to be a hip hop classic by many, it later also reached number one on the Top R&B and Hip Hop Albums Chart. As of December 2000, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot has gone quadruple Platinum in the United States.
Just a few months after the release of his debut effort, DMX dropped his second studio album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood on December 22, 1998. A little longer in length compared to his first release, it boasted sixteen hip hop tracks including Dogs for Life, Ready to Meet Him, Keep Your Shit the Hardest, Bring Your Whole Crew, Ain’t No Way, and It’s All Good. Much like his earlier work, it also featured several guest artists such as The Lox, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Marilyn Manson, Styles P, and Jadakiss.
Upon its release, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood debuted at number one on the Billboard 200; by the end of the first week, it had sold a staggering 670,000 copies. A phenomenal feat, DMX soon became the second rapper in history to release two albums within the same calendar year, both of which have managed to debut at the top of Billboard’s Top 200. Given mostly favourable reviews from critics and fans, the album also charted overseas in the UK and Germany. While it didn’t beat the commercial success of his debut album per se, it did manage to sell over 5.7 million copies world wide. Within the United States, it has since sold more than 3.4 million units, making it DMX’s second Multi-Platinum album.
The next year, DMX released his third studio album entitled, …And Then There Was X. Produced by Irv Gotti, Dame Grease, DJ Shok, Dee & Waah Dean, and a few others, it came with eighteen solid tracks; some of them include Don’t You Ever, The Shakeedown, Make a Move, A Lot to Learn, Here We Go Again, The Professional, and One More Road to Cross. Altogether, the album boasted 72 minutes of hip hop. The rapper’s most successful release to date, it once again entered the Billboard 200 at number one; a huge commercial hit, it went on to sell approximately 698,000 copies during the first week alone. Not only did it manage to peak at number one on the Top R&B Albums soon afterward, but it also charted in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. Accompanied by three singles, What These Bitches Want, Whats My Name, and Party Up (Up In Here), it garnered stellar reviews from contemporary music credits. As of February 2001, …And Then There Was X has gone Platinum a whopping five times in the US.
On October 23, 2001, two years since his last release, DMX came out with his fourth full length album, The Great Depression. Produced by Latarche Nas Collins, Just Blaze, Dame Grease, Kidd Kod, Black Key and the rapper himself, it came with seventeen tracks including A Minute For Your Son, Number 11, Shorty Was Da Bomb, Trina Moe, School Street, and You Could Be Blind. Some of the collaborations featured in the album include When Im Nothing (Feat. Stephanie Mills), I Miss You (Feat. Faith Evans), Bloodline Anthem (Feat. Dia), and You Could Be Blind (Feat. Mashonda).
DMX’s fourth album in a row to enter the Billboard Top 200 at number one, it sold 440,000 copies during the first week. Despite being a commercial success, reactions to the album were mixed; for instance, the Rolling Stone gave it a two and a half star rating while USA Today was more lenient, having graded it three and a half out of four stars. Eventually producing three singles, The Great Depression was later certified Platinum by the RIAA in December of 2011.
In 2003, DMX released his next number one album, Grand Champ. Selling over 312,000 copies within the first week, it came with twenty one hip hop tracks, a handful of which featured artists such as Monica, Big Stan, Syleena Johnson, Sheek Louch, Swizz Beatz, 50 Cent, and a few others. Although successful, reviews for the album were generally mixed; for instance, it currently holds a weighted score of 58/100 on Metacritic. Having said that, it did eventually go on to reach number one on the US Top R&B Albums Chart and number two on the Canada RPM Chart. Grand Champ eventually spawned two singles Where the Hood At and Get It on the Floorーthe first of which reached number 68 on the Billboard 200.
Since then, DMX has come out with two more albums, Year of the Dog…Again in 2006 and Undisputed in the fall of 2012.
What’s DMX Doing Now In 2024 – Recent Updates
DMX appeared in two films in 2020—Fast and Fierce: Death Race and Chronicles of a Serial Killer. In 2021, he also starred in the documentary DMX: Don’t Try to Understand, which centers around the rapper’s life. It was released on November 25, 2021, on HBO Max, after premiering at Doc NYV two days prior.
That same year, he starred in the action thriller Fast Vengence alongside D.Y. Sao, Randall J. Bacon, Natalie Burn, and Lyndon Hoffman-Lew. Written and directed by Pearry Reginald Teo, it follows a man named Shannon, who after learning about his brother’s death, goes back to his old stomping grounds to find those who are responsible.
He also worked on a film titled, Doggmen, though it hasn’t been released yet. In fact, we’re not sure whether or not he ever finished the project.
On April 2, 2021, DMX experienced a heart attack at his home, which was later confirmed to have been caused by a drug overdose. He was rushed to White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York, where he remained in critical condition. His attorney later reported the next day that he was on life support.
That same night, he suffered cerebral hypoxia, a condition in which oxygen doesn’t reach the brain. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful. According to his former manager, he was in a vegetative state with both brain and lung failure. It was announced that he would be undergoing various tests to determine the next step.
On April 9, 2021, it was reported that he had lost functionality in several organs including his lungs, kidneys, and liver. He was declared dead shortly afterward. He was 50 years old. Three months later, the Medical Examiner’s Office announced that his official cause of death was a heart attack induced by cocaine.
In the end, his eighth and final studio album Exodus was released posthumously on May 28. 2021. His first album since 2012, it featured thirteen tracks including “That’s My Dog (ft. Swiss Beatz and The Lox)”, “Money Money Money (ft. Moneybagg Yo)”, “Hood Blues (ft. Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn, and Conway Machine)”, and “Letter to My Son (Call Your Father) (ft. Usher and Brian King Joseph). His daughter, Sonovah, also made an appearance in the album.
In the United States, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number eight with 32,000 units, making it his eighth album to reach the top 10. It also received more than 22 million streams within the first week.
Not only that, but it also charted in Switzerland, Canada, and Belgium.