In the spring of 1998, there wasn’t an album rap fans like myself were more intensely anticipating than DMX’s debut.
Everybody seemed to love DMX. He had the hardcore East Coast aggression, the radio-friendly hooks, and the “tear da club up” energy that resonated with all of the disparate camps at my school. We all had It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot that spring.
But Now, there’s an entire generation of music fans who only know DMX as this middle-aged troubled figure who was once, apparently, a very big hip-hop star.
Almost immediately after he became a star, DMX was making headlines for bad behavior. 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.
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 under six weeks behind bars for violating parole.
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He became a celebrity pariah more renowned for his bad behavior 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 15 children with several women, 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.