In 1998 DMX became only the second rapper to have two albums debut at #1 in one year. While on his way to selling nearly 30 million records domestically, Earl Simmons released five consecutive albums that debuted at #1 on the Billboard magazine Top 200 Albums chart. During the course of a commercially successful and critically acclaimed career, X has also been a frequent visitor to many a courtroom. This was a fact not lost on Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons.
“DMX is practicing really hard at being good—he’s just really fucked up,” Simmons wrote in his 2001 biography Life And Def: Sex, Drugs, Money & God. “But he keeps trying. His records It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, are about being in pain. He’s frustrated at his inability to change. Every time he gets a glimpse of something good, he wants to change and become good. But he just can’t stay on the right path…”
X’s off-the-mic struggles took another turn this week when it was announced he verbally agreed to a boxing match with George Zimmerman—the man infamous for the 2012 killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. A lot of keystrokes have been used explaining why Zimmerman potentially profiting from any of the fame he’s enjoyed since Martin’s death is a horrible idea. While we wholeheartedly agree with that point, there’s no need to be redundant. In the rare event you need a refresher, there’s been some excellent writing on the matter by both David D. of TheSmokingSection and Grantland’s Rembert Browne.
Sadly, X’s stated desire to fight and urinate on Zimmerman will most likely not end well for the Yonker’s-bred rapper, but it also comes as no surprise. In hopes of looking at DMX at a time when he wasn’t representing Hip Hop (and humanity) in the worst possible light and understanding what led to the sad state of affairs that has him even contemplating the buffoonery of squaring off with Zimmerman, here are some other notable feuds in which he’s participated.
DMX Versus Drugs
Sadly, rumors that this battle is still ongoing won’t be quelled by the fact that X verbally agreed to fight George Zimmerman. DMX has previously been arrested for drug possession and animal cruelty in May of 2008 after attempting to barricade himself in his Cave Creek, Arizona home. He was also cited for marijuana possession in Greer, South Carolina three months later.
“Until I die, I will always have a drug problem,” DMX told Iyanla Vanzant during a multi-episode appearance on the OWN show, Iyanla: Fix My Life. “I smoke weed. I drink… Coke, crack—now I don’t really fuck with that. Since I’ve been home from prison almost three years, I slipped a couple times, but I got right back up. When I first got signed, I almost went out of my mind.”
DMX Versus Jay Z
Before this pair both rose to stardom under the Def Jam umbrella, they faced off in a legendary battle (the original undercard was Ruff Ryders’ Harlem Knights versus Original Flavor, who was managed by Damon Dash) in a pool hall in the Bronx. Good luck finding any footage, as Ruff Ryders CEO Joaquin “Waah” Dean ordered everyone in attendance to turn off their cameras.
“It was dope,” Ski Beatz recalled in a 2011 interview with HipHopDX. “DMX, at the time, I had never really heard of DMX. I didn’t know who this kid was. But to hear him rhyme live, I was like, ‘This dude is really ill.’ He was really good. But the battle was good. Jay did his thing; DMX did his thing. You could tell people from DMX’s side were feelin’ Jay, and you could tell people from Jay’s side were feelin’ DMX. It was a mutual, ‘Okay, both these guys are dope.’”
Through a mutual friendship with Irv Gotti, Jay and X became friends and collaborated with each other. But in a 2011 Vibe magazine interview, DMX told Mikey Fresh things turned sour after Jay was appointed as the president of Def Jam.
“[Jay Z] gave me the call, he called me personally,” DMX said. “So I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s wassup! My mans is in a position now, he’s the president of the label I’m on, we good!’ Next thing you know, he’s out of retirement and I’m off the label. What a coincidence.”
DMX Versus Ja Rule
This was another case of things turning sour between label mates and mutual friends friends of Irv Gotti. Any hopes of the Jay Z, DMX and Ja Rule troika collectively recording as Murder Inc. ended when X went on record in 2002 with MTV’s Shaheem Reid about a Ja Rule diss song entitled “Ruled Out.” The Dog leveled claims that Ja was both biting his trademark style and “getting a little too Hollywood.”
“I’m just sick of the bullshit,” X told Big Von of KMEL in a subsequent interview. “I’m sick of money sounding like me. I’m sick of niggas smiling in my face, and he’s a fake-type nigga. I’m just sick of all that. I can’t hold it in but for so long.”
DMX and Ja repaired their relationship to the point where they were civil with one another, and based on X’s 2011 interview with Vibe, that’s where X would like to keep things.
“We cool, but he’s just not the type of nigga that I would hang with,” X explained. “He never was the type of nigga I would hang with. But we was cool. I’d work with you, and yeah we can go to the studio, but we just two different people.”
DMX Versus Xavier Simmons (and Iyanla Vanzant)
You can’t really process the televised “reunion” between DMX and his son, Xavier Simmons without at least partially admitting Iyanla Vanzant manipulated the entire situation for television viewers. It appeared Xavier and his father were on the road to reconciliation before Vanzant imposed a list of conditions and essentially coached the younger Simmons into calling their relationship “toxic.” And, if you’re familiar with X, you can pretty much predict how that exchange ended without suffering through a second of the insipid, Iyanla: Fix My Life.
“If there’s gonna be a condition...if there’s gonna be a demand, when all I’ve given you is unconditional love, I’m not gonna allow that,” X responded. The exchange ended with DMX telling Xavier, “See you at my funeral.” Based on his May, 2013 interview with Pigeons And Planes, Xavier and his father still aren’t exactly on good terms.
DMX Versus Kurupt
“Mothafuck D, mothafuck M, / Only X I know is Xzibit or RBX / Extraordinary, tryin’ to snatch my bitch / You can have the bitch / Two bitches gettin’ ripped...” Talk about shots fired. Kurupt asserted DMX engaged in coitus with his then fiancee, Foxy Brown, with little to publicly corroborate the accusation. What actually happened is anyone’s guess. But other than a 2002 interview with XXL in which he essentially said he didn’t know what Kurupt was talking about, X brushed the accusations aside...although he may have thrown some subliminal shots at Kurupt on “Party Up” with the following bars:
“Y’all niggas is characters, not even good actors / What’s gon’ be the outcome, hmm, let’s add up all the factors / You wack, you’re twisted, your girl's a ho / You’re broke, the kid ain’t yours, and everybody know.”
Luckily, cooler heads prevailed over time.
“Right now, me and Earl and very good, cool friends,” Kurupt said in a 2013 interview with HipHopDX. “I seen him in the airport, and we squashed our differences. I found out he’s a good person. He’s a good nigga. That nigga is a good nigga. We had a good talk, had a couple shots. It was real cool.”
BONUS: DMX Versus Onyx,