The rapper DMX is currently serving out a one-year sentence for parole violation at the Mental Health Unit of the Arizona State Prison. It’s the latest nefarious chapter of a life that the artist known more formally to the cops as Earl Simmons has lived out as if he were playing it out through an episode of the Grand Theft Auto video game series. Being picked up and locked up for drug use, reckless driving, robbery, or impersonating officers of the law seems to offer no deterrent to DMX, whose musical career has unfortunately been dwarfed by his real world problems. So in honor of this week’s release of DMX’s Greatest Hits With A Twist project, here are ten great japes from the Yonkers yapper.
1. Impersonating A Federal Agent In the rapper’s rap sheet to end ’em all, June of 2004 saw DMX clock up the following violations, ostensibly while dabbling in a bout of road rage with a fellow motorist at JFK airport: attempted robbery, criminal mischief, menacing, DUI, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal possession of a weapon, and being found with a banned substance (crack cocaine). Most raffishly of all, when police came to intervene in the ruckus, DMX identified himself as a federal agent (he’s not), possibly while pointing proudly to the fake flashing light and siren he’d hooked up to his car. Unbelievably, when it came time for his trial, DMX escaped with a conditional discharge.
2. Escaping From Prison (While Being Chased By A Pack Of Dogs) Somewhat miffed at finding himself locked up in an upstate New York prison, DMX and a pal, whom he identified as “the white kid,” decided to break free. Calling on the classic jail flick routine of making their break while being transported to the prison bus, DMX explained their rush for freedom with a turn of phrase nodding to naturalist novelist Thomas Hardy: “In 1986 I broke out of jail. It took me ten days to get home through the snow. We found ourselves in nothing but fields full of snow so we had to hike until we found a highway. We got bit by a few wild dogs along the way and I fucked a dog up too. It took about ten days hiking until I made it home.” Alas, a few days after DMX returned home, his mother called the cops to transport him back upstate, this time with an extra seven years added to his sentence for attempted escape.
3. Telling Barack Obama To “Stop That Bullshit” In the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election, most rappers were content to toe the party-line of endorsing Barack Obama in the hopes of scoring America’s first black president. Not disenfranchised DMX. In an interview with rap rag XXL, he showed himself unable to get beyond what seemed to him like Obama’s fantastical name. “That ain’t that nigga’s name,” he said with disbelief, before proceeding to add, “I’ma tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.”” Team Hilary’s negative ad campaign dropped the ball on this one.
4. Being A Victim Of Female Rape Back in 2003, DMX cheated on his then-wife with a girl named Monique Wayne. After DNA tests later proved that DMX was the father to Wayne’s child, the rapper defended his actions by telling the world that Wayne had raped him. Electing to speak via the hard-hitting editorial outlet of Sister 2 Sister magazine, DMX claimed, “She raped me… Because when I sleep, my penis be out.” Wayne hit back with a $1.5 million defamation suit, while DMX still considers Demi Moore’s Disclosure to be one of five movies he’d chose to be stranded on a desert island with.
5. Telling Dog-Themed Jokes Despite being hit with animal cruelty charges, DMX is serious about the love he proclaims towards his (literal) dogs. As if to prove how smitten he is with his canine companions, when asked in a 2006 interview if he’d heard any good jokes recently, he pulled out this gem of a pooch-based rib-tickler: “This dude walks into a pet shop and he’s looking around at the animals. He hears a voice saying, “Come here!” He follows it and finds a dog in the back. The dogs starts talking to him, saying, “You need to buy me because I just came back from the army and I saved ten soldiers and I sniffed out land-mines. Then weeks before that I was working with the fire department and I pulled two babies out of a burning building.” The dude says, “So why are you back here?” The dog says, “Ah, man, because they’re hating on me.” So the dude goes out to the front counter and says, “You know you have a talking dog back there?” “Yeah,” says the guy working at the pet shop, “but he’s a fucking liar.”” (Note: This actually happened.)
6. Sitting In A Tub Of Blood In 1998, rap was in full-on jiggy era mode, with videos and album covers cluttered with artists rocking shiny suits and posing with rented luxury cars. DMX, however, was persuaded by rap photographer Jonathan Mannion to dunk himself in a bathtub full of fake blood for the cover of his Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood album. According to lore, DMX resisted the idea until Mannion literally offered to let him wear his jeans. The result was a classic, if messy, piece of hip-hop iconography.
7. Beefing Over The Spelling Style While In Prison For a character with such a propensity for finding himself in real life scrapes, DMX’s history of rap beefs isn’t as extensive as you’d assume. His tryst with former friend the midget rapper Ja Rule is well documented — it was based around allegations of Ja stealing his gravel-intoned style from him — but DMX’s most endearing rap dispute was with one-time E.P.M.D.-associate K-Solo and focused on whichever of the two rappers first had the idea to rap rhymes based around spelling out words via individual letters. Set against the backdrop of a Long Island jail, the way DMX tells it he battled (and beat) K-Solo with his spelling style, got released from jail, cut a demo, went back inside for robbery and was greeted by inmates congratulating him after they’d heard his song on the radio. They hadn’t — it was K-Solo’s “Spellbound.” K-Solo has since challenged DMX to settle their long-running dispute via a cage match.
8. Engaging In Yet More Identity Theft! Befitting of a rapper with over ten film roles listed on his IMDB profile, DMX’s gut reaction when faced with impending danger seems to be to snap into character mode. So after finding himself hit with a $7,000 bill for medical services related to the treatment of pneumonia by the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix back in April of 2008, DMX plumped for the poor peoples’ health insurance ruse of giving out a fake name (Troy Jones) and random social security number. As he apparently quipped to a hospital visitor, “Someone in the projects is going to get the bill.”
9. Being Rap’s Worst Ever Driver Chalk this one up to either calamitous bad luck or hip-hop’s most brilliant example of the appliance of physics, but after DMX lost control of his SVU and saw it smack into another car in the Bronx in April of 2005, that car itself then ricocheted off and hit an unmarked cop car. Of course, DMX’s license had been heartily suspended by this point.
10. Messing With His “Turn Signal Thing” Energized by his starring role in Ernest R. Dickerson’s Never Die Alone film, DMX was gracious enough to lend the movie’s set a classic lowrider car that he’d yet to crash. Apparently though he was less than pleased with the way it was handled, telling anyone who’d listen at the New York premiere of the movie how not just “the hood don’t close right,” and that “the turn signal thing is just hanging off by a wire,” but that fake blood had been left splattered all over the back seat. It would be pure folly to rule out a six-year-old pair of Mannion’s jeans being the culprit for that last one.