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The Devil in DMX

Can the celebrated rapper get out of trouble long enough to top the charts again?

On April 26, 2010, Simmons filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against Rich Kid Entertainment, a company he'd hired in 1999 to collect his royalties. The lawsuit alleges that instead of taking the 10 percent cut their contract dictated, Rich Kid pocketed 100 percent of Simmons's publishing profits. "DMX has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has had No. 1 singles and albums on the Billboard charts, which in turn have generated a great amount of revenue for Defendants, but has left [DMX] with nothing," the suit says.

The outcome of the lawsuit is still pending. Walker says she's busy putting out plenty of other fires, including promoters threatening to sue over concerts DMX missed because he was incarcerated.

When Simmons isn't in jail and it's a "good day" for him, he'll typically go in the studio until 5 or 6 in the morning, then go have breakfast, then take a nap, then go riding quads through the desert, then out to shoot pool somewhere, then watch movies at home. "The whole day needs to be mapped out," Walker says. "But that stems from him not having label support, not having any large tours. He's used to that. He needs that. And without that, we have to find other things to fill his time. Because idle minds are the devil's workshop."

DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
Jamie Peachy
DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
MUG SHOTS COURTESY OF THE MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, EXCEPT (G) COURTESY OF THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Mugshot A — May 6, 2008: charged with, among other things, reckless driving and criminal speeding Mugshot B — May 9, 2008: charged with animal cruelty and felony drug possesion Mugshot C — July 2, 2008: arrested for failure to appear in court Mugshot D — July 19, 2008: charged with providing false information to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Mugshot E — March 9, 2010: charged with probation violation Mugshot F — November 18, 2010: charged with probation violation Mugshot G — December 20, 2010: DMX’s latest mug shot, taken after his transfer to the Flamenco Mental Health ward at the Alhambra prison complex in Phoenix

"He has to be around the right people at all times, even when he's away from us. And he knows it. Because he's not there yet, to do it on his own," Walker continues. "And the person on the side has to be strong enough to say, 'I don't care that your back hurts, no, you're not going to the emergency room.' He's going to throw a fit, he's going to act up, but you're doing him a favor. We've done it many times. He curses me, he yells at me, he gets mad, but...I tell him to shut up. It's hard. It's really hard."

Walker says she's doing everything she can to help get the music out and keep Simmons focused on positive things. "We're reaching out to Swizz [Beatz]. Busta Rhymes is calling, he wants to help. Flava Flav is calling, he wants to help," Walker says. "And I'm not lying to people. I'm telling them, 'He needs help. It's time we address it. It's time we come together and save his life. Or else he's going to die.'"

Asked what Simmons might be doing if he weren't rapping, his cousin Rowe says nothing, but her eyes widen and she gets a petrified look on her face.

For years, Simmons's alternative to the streets was the studio and stage. With no alternative, the prospects aren't good. "That's my biggest fear, that I'm going to get a call and...I don't want that to happen," Walker says. "I love him. The world loves DMX, but we love Earl. And that's what matters to us. So whatever expense. We do what we need to do to make sure he's safe."
_____________________

During his high-energy performance last November in Scottsdale, DMX took a break to talk to the crowd. What he said — and the fact that someone in the audience videotaped it — could be a major blow to his comeback aspirations.

"New York to AZ, niggas must be craz-y, I'm a dog — fuck Jay-Z! Ya hear? Ya hear?"

"I need a little feedback," he continues. "What do y'all think is the state of the record industry right now? You know, I'm an artist, so I kind of have biased views, but I think most of those niggas suck. I think they not only suck, but they suck dick."

DMX finished his rant with this freestyle: "My take on it is: You got Patrón in your cup? Good for you! You got a bitch that wanna fuck? Good for you! You sittin' on 24s? Good for you! You got Lamborghini doors? Good for you! But at the end of the day, I ain't got that shit. And I really don't give a fuck if you got that shit. Because you ain't giving it to me!"

The video of DMX's outburst hit the Internet that night. By the next afternoon, it had gone viral, and his "Fuck the Industry/Fuck Jay-Z" speech was the talk of every online hip-hop forum in the country.

Ironically, Swizz Beatz had just released DMX's new single, "Y'all Don't Really Know," that day, and was getting positive feedback. He told Walker Jay-Z had even approached him about maybe doing something with DMX before he heard about the diss video.

Beatz defended DMX in an interview with Vladtv.com, saying, "There's no problem with DMX, with Jay." He also said, in part, "X is forever my brother...he's had this trouble in his life that nobody cared about when he wasn't successful...I just pray for X a lot, man, because I remember people couldn't even follow up after his performances. Period."

Walker says three days before Simmons's arrest, Beatz tried to get him on a three-way call with Jay-Z, but by the time it happened, "Earl had been drinking and it wasn't a good idea."

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