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Earl Simmons (born December 18, 1970), better known by his stage name DMX, is an American rapper and actor who rose to fame in the late 1990s. His stage name stands for Dark Man X, the name he used when he first started rapping in 1990. To date, his best-selling album was his 1999 album ...And Then There Was X, which featured the hit single "Party Up (Up in Here)". As an actor, he also starred in the films Belly, Exit Wounds, Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave, and Last Hour, and his own reality television series Soul of a Man on the American cable television network BET. In 2002, DMX wrote an autobiographical book titled E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. He also has an extensive arrest record.

Early life

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, DMX relocated early in his childhood with some family members to Yonkers, a city just north of New York City. He spent much time either on the streets committing crime selling drugs or living in group homes.However, he considered hip hop to be an escape from his hard times, as he enjoyed beatboxing, turntablism, and eventually rapping with famed rapper Just Ice. The initials DMX originate from an earlier stage name of Dark Man X..

Music career

In 1991, The Source magazine praised him in its "Unsigned Hype" column that highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. Later, he was signed to the Columbia Records subsidiary Ruffhouse in 1992; under that label he released his debut single "Born Loser", which did not get much airplay. However, Ruffhouse promoted many other artists on its roster rather than DMX and so agreed to release him from his contract eventually. In 1994, he released a second single, "Make a Move", but later that year was arrested for drug possession.

In 1997, Simmons earned a second major-label shot with Def Jam, and made a successful guest appearance on LL Cool J's "4, 3, 2, 1." Additional guest spots on Mase's "24 Hours to Live" and The LOX's "Money, Power & Respect" created an even stronger buzz.

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)

Main article: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

In early 1998, he released his debut major-label single under Def Jam Recordings, "Get At Me Dog", which was certified gold by the RIAA. His first major-label album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot was released in May 1998 and debuted on the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S. It earned Simmons numerous comparisons to Tupac Shakur and sold over four million copies. Soon after the release of the album, DMX was nearly arrested for raping a stripper in the Bronx but was cleared by DNA evidence.

Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood (1998)

Main article: Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

Simmons completed his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, by the end of 1998; the album was released in December of that year due to a pending buyout of Def Jam. As had its predecessor It's Dark and Hell is Hot, Flesh debuted on the top spot of the Billboard 200 chart and eventually was certified triple platinum by the RIAA. Guest appearances ranged from rap group The L.O.X., rapper Jay-Z, R&B singer Mary J. Blige, and even heavy metal musician Marilyn Manson. The Ruff Ryders posse, for which DMX was a founding member, released its first compilation album under the Ryde or Die series in the spring of 1999. Contributors included DMX himself as well as The LOX and Eve. In 1999, DMX joined rappers Jay-Z, Method Man and Redman for Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life tour.

...And Then There Was X (1999)

Main article: ...And Then There Was X

Simmons released his third album, ...And Then There Was X, on December 21, 1999. It debuted at number one on the pop charts, his third straight album to do so. "Party Up" was his biggest single, and became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts. His lead single off the album, "What's My Name?", and third single "What These Bitches Want" (featuring Sisqo) were also popular. And Then There Was X is Simmons' best-selling album to date, going six times platinum. Def Jam urged him to release the tracks within a month. The album sold 698,000 copies in its first week.

The Great Depression(2001)

Main article: The Great Depression (DMX album)

After improving his legal problems, Simmons returned to the studio and completed his fourth album, The Great Depression. Released October 3, 2001, it was his fourth straight album to debut at the top of the Billboard 200. The Great Depression went platinum quickly, but was not as commercially or critically successful as its predecessors.

[edit] Grand Champ (2003)

Main article: Grand Champ

In 2003, Grand Champ became his fifth straight album to debut at number one. This extended DMX the only artist in history to have 5 albums (and his entire album catalog) debut at #1. After its release, he informed the public that he planned to retire, and that Grand Champ would be his final album.In June 2003, DMX was arrested for using indecent language during a performance at Saint Kitts and Nevis. The country's Information Minister alleged that a contract signed before the concert stipulated the show would be without indecent language on stage. Simmons was released on bail ($376).

Year of the Dog...Again (2006)

Main article: Year of the Dog...Again

On January 13, 2006, DMX signed to Columbia Records, the label that released his early single "Born Loser".DMX recorded his next album while switching record labels, causing numerous delays. The album was finally released on August 1, 2006 under the title Year of the Dog...Again. It missed the number one spot in the charts by only a few thousand sales. He also appeared on a remix of Busta Rhymes' "Touch It". Two more singles, "Lord Give Me A Sign" and "We In Here", followed. The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter was DMX's greatest hits album, released on June 12, 2007.

Walk With Me Now and You'll Fly With Me Later (2008)

DMX recently signed to Bodog Music to release his two next albums (on the same day), Walk with Me Now and You'll Fly with Me Later

Acting career

He also starred in Never Die Alone, which was based on street novelist Donald Goines' book. He is also set to star in three upcoming films. He was set to star in Marble City, but was replaced by Ving Rhames.He has finished filming another action thriller called Last Hour which should see a release at the end of 2008. He also had a reality show on BET called DMX: Soul of a Man. He will also star in the 2009 Beast, the sequel to Belly. He has finished shooting an upcoming film with Kris Kristofferson titled Lords Of The Street, the release date has yet to be set. He can be seen starring alongside Clifton Powell & Vivica A. Fox in a film titled Father of Lies. In 2003 he starred in a movie called Cradle 2 the Grave, as a criminal father trying to save his daughter.

Criminal record

Since beginning public life as a rapper, DMX has made headlines for multiple arrests, such as for violent behavior, animal cruelty, reckless driving,unlicensed driving, drug possession, and identity falsification. He has served some prison time, such as separate 15-day sentence in 2000 for possessing marijuana and 2001 for having driven without a license and possessed marijuana. His appeal to reduce that 2001 sentence was denied, and he was charged with assault for allegedly throwing objects at prison guards.

In June 2004, he was arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on charges of cocaine possession, criminal impersonation, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while claiming to be a federal agent and attempting to carjack a vehicle.He was given a conditional discharge on December 8, 2004 but pled guilty on October 25, 2005 to violating parole.

On November 18, 2005, DMX was sentenced to 70 days in prison for violating his parole and being tardy to court; the lateness charge caused a 10-day extension from the original 60-day plan.[16] For good behavior, DMX was released from jail early on December 30.

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