It may seem unfathomable to people under 25 that there was a time when the three biggest rappers in the world were Jay Z, Eminem, and DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons.
He went from grimy underdog to hip-hop superstar in what seemed like just a few months.
Almost immediately after he became a star, DMX was making headlines for bad behaviour. There were drug and weapons possession arrests, and charges of animal cruelty. He’d been ordered to make public service announcements and he’d gone to rehab, but DMX’s demons never seemed to subside. By the early 2000s, he’d released a string of successful albums and had made the transition to bona fide movie star, appearing in films like Belly, Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, and Cradle 2 the Grave. But he was getting more and more out of control.
One of the most notoriously bizarre moments happened in 2004, when DMX and an accomplice broke into the parking lot of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after X told an attendant he was a federal agent, then attempted to commandeer a man’s SUV, with X telling the shocked driver he was working for the FBI. According to court documents, DMX then physically removed the driver from his vehicle—while the man’s 12-year-old daughter was in the car. Upon his arrest, police found a handgun, nightstick, 20 rocks of crack cocaine, Oxycodone, and Diazepam, and the rapper was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal mischief, driving under the influence, menacing, impersonation, and endangering the welfare of a child. He struck a plea deal where he only ended up serving less than six weeks behind bars for violating parole.
DMX would spend the next decade making headlines for arrests and spending time in and out the slammer—all to the detriment of his once-stellar entertainment career. He’s only released one album since 2006 (2012s lacklustre Undisputed) and his movie career fizzled, with X only appearing in straight-to-DVD clunkers since 2006, along with the occasional cameo.
He became a celebrity pariah more renowned for his bad behaviour than catchy hits: the drug addiction, the seemingly endless litany of arrests, and his crumbling marriage to now-ex-wife Tashera Simmons (she separated from X in 2010 after he was incarcerated three times that year). X has also fathered 12 children with several women, including two via extramarital affairs while he was with Tashera. In 2013, he declared bankruptcy due to outstanding child support payments, and in July 2015 was sentenced to six months in jail for owing over $400,000 in back child support.
DMX was found unresponsive at a Ramada Inn parking lot in his native Yonkers, New York, this February after suffering a possible drug overdose.
The growling rapper’s long history of addiction and arrests is as well-known as his music at this point—perhaps even more so—so it’s not hard to see why many would jump to those conclusions. Varying reports claimed that cops gave him CPR and a medic injected him with Narcan, which is an anti-opioid used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
It was reported that a witness at the scene said DMX had taken a powdered drug before he collapsed.
The rapper has reportedly left the hospital following his episode in that Ramada Inn parking lot. We may never know the whole truth regarding what happened, but we know that X has a long, hard history.
We may never see another DMX album or another blockbuster DMX movie. Check out DMX – X Gon Give It To Ya.