The recent death of the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch underscored the fact that Rap and Hip Hop have now been a major part of the musical conversation for over three decades. Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, is another Hip Hop figure whose evolution traces back to the genre’s nascence and whose success and gruff Rap style inspired a generation to follow his blazed trail.
DMX was beatboxing in the mid-’80s; glowing reviews in The Source in 1991 led to a Columbia contract. DMX’s guest appearances (LL Cool J’s “4, 3, 2, 1” and Mase’s “24 Hours to Live,” among others) raised his profile, leading to his 1998 breakthrough with two No. 1 albums, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, which cumulatively sold over nine million albums. His next three LPs also hit No. 1.
Much of DMX’s time had been taken up with legal proceedings — he’s been charged with drug and weapon offenses, DUI, assault and a variety of other things — and he’s done some acting, but he announced his semi-retirement in 2009 to pursue a ministry.
This year, Dark Man X — perhaps as a way to change how the public views him — starred with his wife in the VH1 reality show Couple Therapy and showed himself to be a thoughtful, smart and sweet man just trying to make things right. DMX has released only a pair of greatest hits packages in the last six years, but that drought ends with the much-anticipated Undisputed, slated to drop next month. The video for Undisputed’s first single, “Last Hope,” is essentially a history lesson detailing DMX’s highs and lows and shows he’s prepared to retake his rightful position as one of Rap’s most successful bad boys.
DMX performs Friday, June 1 at Inner Circle. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.