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 DMXdrum machine and later was interpreted as "Dark Man X".
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
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 had 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 his seventh album, which was later titled Undisputed. A video for a new track entitled "Last Hope" was released via Internet on September 24, 2011, and was later included on The Weigh In EP released digitally on May 5, 2012.
In late February 2012, Seven Arts Entertainment Inc. acquired United Music Media Group's music assets (which included a catalog of DMX's music), and signed DMX to a two album deal. 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. After numerous delays the album was eventually released on September 11, 2012 and featured production from Swizz Beatz and J.R. Rotem with a guest appearance by MGK.
In 2013, DMX announced he had begun working on his eighth studio album. He has been seen collaborating with producers Swizz Beatz and Dame Grease. In December, after regaining his passport, he embarked on a world tour with performances in Bulgaria and Kosovo, with additional performances expected in Europe and the Middle East.
DMX is the father of twelve children. He was married to Tashera Simmons in 1999 and they were married for eleven years. In July 2010, Tashera announced their separation (two weeks following DMX's release from prison). DMX maintains that the two remain friends.
DMX had multiple extramarital affairs during his marriage to Simmons, some of which produced children. DNA testing confirmed that he is the father of at least two of these children; the first was born to Maryland resident Monique Wayne in 2004, the second to a different woman in late 2008. DMX and Wayne fought over her claim that he was the father of her son for years, during which she has sued him repeatedly for defamation of character, and for child support. After DNA testing proved DMX fathered Wayne's son in 2007, he was ordered to pay her $1.5 million.
On July 30, 2013, DMX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing his child support obligations as his priority claim. The filing was challenged by the Department of Justice's bankruptcy watchdog trustee program, and was later dismissed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on November 11, 2013.
Since becoming a public figure, DMX's multiple arrests have been for offenses including: animal cruelty, reckless driving, unlicensed driving, drug possession, and identity falsification.
DMX joined rappers Jay-Z, Method Man, and Redman for Jay-Z's 1999 Hard Knock Life tour, during which he was arrested for charges of a stabbing at a tour stop in Boston, Massachusetts; he was cleared of the charge (and another assault charge during the same year in his hometown of Yonkers).
DMX and his wife were arrested in 1999 after his uncle (and then manager) was accidentally shot at a hotel in New Jersey, charged with animal cruelty and possession of crack cocaine and weapons. DMX successfully plea-bargained, which reduced his sentence to paying fines, probation, and community service.
When officers of the Fort Lee Police Department executed a search of his home in 1999, DMX promptly surrendered himself on weapons possession charges.
DMX served a 15-day jail sentence in 2000 for possession of marijuana.
Following a concert in Buffalo, New York in March 2000, DMX was arrested from a vehicle on New York State Route 33 in Cheektowaga, New York. He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, speeding, failure to signal, driving without a license, failure to notify the DMV of an address change, and possession of marijuana. He failed to appear at the subsequent hearing scheduled for March 21 in Cheektowaga, which lead to a warrant for his arrest. He later turned himself in, pled guilty to a reduced charge of driving without a license, and was sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined $400.
DMX served another jail sentence in 2001 for driving without a license and possession of marijuana. His appeal to reduce the sentence was denied; rather, he was charged with assault for throwing objects at prison guards. DMX entered rehab to treat his addiction to drugs in 2002.
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. DMX was released on $376 bail.
DMX was arrested in June 2004, 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.
DMX was sentenced to 70 days in jail on November 18, 2005, for violating parole; the lateness charge added a 10-day extension to the original 60-day sentence. DMX was released early (for "good behavior") on December 30, 2005.
DMX pled guilty to charges of drug possession, theft, and animal cruelty, at a hearing on December 30, 2008; he was sentenced to ninety days in jail on January 31, 2009.
On May 22, 2009, DMX entered a plea agreement/change of plea, and pled guilty to attempted aggravated assault.
After serving four out of six months for violating drug probation, DMX was released from jail on July 6, 2010. That day, a television pilot was filmed to portray his road to recovery; however, DMX was arrested three weeks later and the pilot did not evolve into a series.
On July 27, 2010, DMX turned himself in to Los Angeles Metropolitan Court for a reckless driving charge he received in 2002. He was sentenced to serve ninety days in jail.
DMX was arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona on November 19, 2010, on charges of violating his probation by consuming alcohol (at a performance). On December 20, 2010, DMX was moved to the Mental Health Unit of the Arizona State Prison, and released on July 18, 2011.
DMX was arrested on August 24, 2011, for speeding (recorded as 102 mph in a 65 mph zone), reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license. While DMX admitted to speeding, he claims he was driving 85 mph, not 102 mph as charged.
DMX was arrested on August 20, 2013 in Greer, South Carolina during a traffic stop after a car he was a passenger in made an improper u-turn. He was arrested due to an outstanding warrant for driving under suspension. Four packages of marijuana were also found in the vehicle, and he along with the driver were cited for them.
DMX was again arrested on November 4, 2013 by the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport police near Greer, South Carolina after police, who were familiar with his prior arrests, noticed DMX behind the wheel of a vehicle at the terminal. DMX was booked on charges of driving under suspension, having an uninsured vehicle, and not having a licensed vehicle. He was subsequently released after spending three hours in jail.
Feud with Ja Rule
DMX and Jay-Z guest-starred on the single "It's Murda" from Ja Rule's first album. Ja Rule had previously feuded with Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent; all of which had been resolved or faded from significance. DMX accused Ja Rule of copying DMX's signature "gruff style". DMX said that he wanted the feud to end when he was released from jail in 2005: "Gotti came to me in jail and said I want to make peace with you and him. I was like, 'Alright Gotti, lets do it." DMX and Ja Rule finally ended their feud at VH1's 2009 Hip Hop Honors.