How DMX got his name

Mildred Europa Taylor April 20, 2021
DMX died on April 9 at age 50 after suffering a heart attack. Photo: Getty

It’s been three weeks since news broke of the death of legendary rapper DMX. The Grammy-nominated star died on April 9 at age 50 after suffering a heart attack.

“Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him,” his family wrote in a statement following his death. “Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever.”

In the wake of his death, social media has been filled up with tributes to the rapper. Fans and supporters while mourning his death have also been looking into his life story and musical legacy. Though many hip hop lovers might know the “Ruff Ryders Anthem” rapper under his professional moniker (DMX), only a few might be aware of how and why he chose it as his stage name.

Here’s the story behind the name.

Born Earl Simmons in 1970 in Mount Vernon, New York, to teenage parents, DMX’s father abandoned him at birth. Thus, he was raised by his mother, Arnet Simmons. He however had a difficult childhood as he became a subject of abuse by his mother and her boyfriends. In school, he often breached school rules. While in fifth grade, he was sacked from school. For much of his youth, he was in and out of boys’ homes after escaping his mother’s home, according to his 2003 autobiography E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. While in one of these boys’ homes, he started writing his own songs and performing for his mates, who encouraged him to pursue music.

By 14, DMX had launched into the rap scene. He befriended a local rapper called Ready Ron before choosing the name DMX, paying homage to the Oberheim DMX drum machine that he used for his beats when he started music. Soon after, that moniker came to stand for “Dark Man X.”

While alive, DMX never shied away from talking about some of his struggles and how he had tried to conquer them. A devout Christian, the rapper once disclosed that his addiction started at age 14 when a mentor tricked him into smoking marijuana laced with crack cocaine.

Starting music in the 1980s, DMX featured on hit songs with artistes like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, and The LOX, before subsequently releasing his debut album in 1998, “It’s Dark, and Hell is Hot”. He followed it up with “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”, and “…And Then There Was X.” DMX was also into movies, starring in projects like “Exit Wounds”, “Romeo Must Die” and “Cradle 2 the Grave.”

Despite his successful music career, DMX was entangled in multiple legal issues which negatively affected his finances. He was imprisoned several times for animal cruelty, reckless driving, unlicensed driving, and drug possession. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Romeo Must Die actor had a net worth of negative $1million in 2021. He filed for bankruptcy in 2013 in Manhattan court claiming to have $50,000 in assets and between $1 million and $10 million worth of debt to various creditors. In his filing, the rapper reportedly cited child support as his priority claim, totaling around $1.24 million. He has 15 children with different women, with his youngest child being five years old.

He was charged with tax fraud in 2017 amounting to $1.7 million and sentenced to one year imprisonment in 2018. When he was released in 2019, he owed the IRS $2.3 million. His income was subsequently garnished by the U.S. government until the debt is paid.

DMX explained his brushes with the law in his 1998 song “Slippin in the courtroom”. “They put me in a situation forcing me to be a man/ When I was just learning to stand without a helping hand,” he raps in the song.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 20, 2021


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