The Devil in DMX

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

She says DMX has "no problem" apologizing to Jay-Z. "At the end of the day, Jay is a great businessman, and they don't have any ill intentions toward one another," Walker says. "The reason Earl did that [rant], and this is something that came out of his mouth, is because it rhymed with 'AZ,' and it got a roar out of the crowd. And that's really it. X wanted to address it before he got locked up."

Shortly after Simmons got locked up in Lower Buckeye Jail, he stopped granting New Times interviews. According to Walker, he wanted to wait until after his court dates on the latest probation violation charges.

"I'm still the project, huh?"

DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
Jamie Peachy
DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
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


Earl Simmons is dressed in the black and white striped suit of a Maricopa County prison inmate, with the word "Unsentenced" in red on his back, talking to the one photographer who showed up to take his picture today. It's just after 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning in December, and he's handcuffed on a bench in a downstairs courtroom of the 4th Avenue jail.

This is Simmons's probation revocation hearing. Though he's often had bags under his eyes and stubble on his face lately, Simmons looks rested, thinner than he was a month ago. He's freshly shaven, smiling and talking about the lack of entertainment in the Lower Buckeye Jail. "They play the same five Christmas songs, over and over, all day long," he says. "And four of them are in Spanish."

When the proceedings start, Simmons pleads guilty to a felony probation violation. His attorney, Glenn Allen, admits that in the early morning hours of November 13 (right after his concert in Scottsdale), Simmons consumed some alcohol. Judge Christine Mulleneaux, who's presided over Simmons's previous probation violation case, accepts the plea. She also accepts evidence that "the opiate" found in Simmons's system was a prescription medication from his psychiatrist, and throws that charge out.

But she adds, "His substance abuse issues are at the root of this problem. He's been on some type of substance since he was 14."

She also says Simmons has an undiagnosed mental condition, and believes he's been self-medicating with illegal substances. Simmons's probation violation report shows he admitted to using cocaine on August 12 in Los Angeles, shortly after being released from jail there on a reckless driving charge. He admitted to using cocaine on October 20, and his drug tests were positive for cocaine on October 12, October 15 and October 25. He failed to show up for his drug test on October 28. "You went on a downward spiral," Mulleneaux tells Simmons. "Your criminal history goes back to 1988. It's going to continue if you don't take care of your mental health."

In the courtroom, Simmons's supporters are praying. Pastor Barbara King is here, along with a woman who's holding one hand on the Bible and the other up toward Simmons, whispering from the Book of Psalms. Judge Mulleneaux acknowledges she's read several letters of support for Simmons; these letters include one from Mueziq Entertainment CEO Antwone Payne, stating, "We are in the process of negotiating a record deal for Mr. Earl Simmons," and that upon solidifying the deal, they planned to enroll Simmons in a substance abuse program at Promises Treatment Centers in Los Angeles (which costs more than $54,000 for 31 days of treatment).

But Mulleneaux also had to consider Simmons's record of 11 felony and 15 misdemeanor convictions. Prior to sentencing, the judge asks Simmons if he has anything to say. He bows his head and pauses for a moment. "I did make the effort that I could," he says. "And I appreciate any help you can give me."

Mulleneaux passes the sentence: one year in jail for the felony probation violation, followed by community probation. She tells Simmons he'll be credited with 113 days already served and urges him to follow up with therapists and continue treatment for substance abuse.

Simmons casts a quick, disappointed look at his attorney, but then raises his head high. Though he's received the maximum sentence for his offense, he got nearly four months shaved off for "time served" right away. He knows if he can follow the rules in jail and be a model prisoner, he might get out even sooner.

Four days after he was sentenced, Simmons was admitted to the Flamenco Mental Health ward at the Alhambra prison complex (where he remains) and denied visitors for 30 days. His mental health, particularly the long-circulated rumor that he has bipolar disorder, was not something Simmons would comment on during interviews for this story, saying only, "That's way too personal."

After the news that he'd been moved to the mental health ward — where he remained, as of press time — Nakia Walker issued this statement: "He is not crazy! Earl's stay inside of the Flamenco Prison Complex in Arizona, as weird as it may sound, will be beneficial. Does he deserve to be caged in a cell? No! That's why he's not! He sleeps in a dorm that is complemented with doctors, medical attention and treatment."

As he's being fingerprinted, he turns to the handful of court spectators, who include his cousin Rowe, Pastor King, Nakia Walker and a young blond girl who simply introduces herself as "a friend of X." Simmons smiles at them. Walker is wiping tears from her eyes.

As he's led out the steel door, Simmons says, "Yo, I'll be out in two and a half, three months, all right?"

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