At the time of his death on April 9, 2021, its estimated that Earl Simmons' (also known as DMX) net worth was negative $1 million. To know how the situation got so dire for the late rapper, we must go back to the beginning.
DMX was born Earl Simmons on December 18, 1970 in Mount Vernon, NewYork. His father moved to Philadelphia when Simmons was very small, leaving his young mother alone to raise several children.
Childhood was a rough time for DMX, struggling with chronic asthma, getting hit by a car at an early age, and living in poverty. But perhaps worst of all were the beatings he endured from his mother and her boyfriends.
As a result of this trauma, young Earl acted out in school and began committing crimes like robbery. Because of his behavior, the future rapper was sent to a children's home for 18 months. Upon his release, he slept on the streets to escape his mother's continued abuse.
His criminal activities continued, escalating to more serious crimes like carjacking. Earl ended up at the children's home again. But this time he met other kids that shared his love of rap music. He was also fortunate enough to have a music teacher that encouraged him to write and perform.
After leaving the children's home for the second time, Simmons continued his life of crime, but also began teaming up with local rappers, lending his low bass beat box techniques to their performances. This is where he earned the nickname, DMX. He sounded just like the DMX electronic drum kit. He started making mixtapes and distributed them at various clubs.
He had begun to gain a local following. The Source (a hip-hop magazine), featured him in their "unsigned artists" section in 1992. It was not long after that, Def Jam records signed him, and his meteoric rise would soon begin.
DMX Musical Career
DMX's debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, hit number one on the Billboard chart, and sold over 4.8 million copies. His second album, Flesh Of My Flesh, sold 3.5 million copies, and also hit number one. He followed with 6 more albums that included:
- ...And Then There Was X (4.9 million copies sold)
- The Great Depression (1.9 million copies sold)
- Grand Champ (1.2 million copies sold)
Singles like Ruff Riders Anthem, Slippin', and What's My Name, all topped the charts and we're on heavy rotation on radio stations all over the country. At one point, you could not have MTV on for more than an hour without seeing the Rough Riders Anthem video, which featured DMX doing street tricks on a motorcycle.
During his career, DMX collaborated with a ton of artists including;
- Snoop Dogg
- LL Cool Jay
- Mary J Blige
- Method Man
- Dr. Dre
- Machine Gun Kelly
Upon his departure from Def Jam, DMX stated that he had made the record company $147 million. Though it's unclear what percentage of that he received, a modest estimate would put it at about $36 million.
With his distinctive voice and charismatic demeanor, it wasn't long before DMX started to have offers for movie and television appearances. Over the years, he appeared in multiple productions, including:
- Romeo Must Die
- Exit Wounds
- Cradle 2 The Grave
- Third Watch (television show)
- Eve (television show)
- Father Of Lies
- Last Hour
- Beyond The Law
The rough voiced rapper also had his own reality series on BET in 2003. In addition, he made several guest appearances on shows like Saturday Night Live, Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel.
In 2003, DMX published his autobiography, E.A.R.L., where he discussed his abusive childhood, over 30 arrests, and struggles with drug use in brutally honest terms.
DMX also toured heavily throughout his career, including rap festivals, Woodstock 1999, and tons of club dates.
His songs have also been featured in many commercials. Most recently, one was playing in the background of the 2023 Superbowl commercial for Downy fabric softener.
Over his career, DMX won an American Music Award (AMA) and a Billboard Music Award. He was nominated for 4 Grammys and 7 MTV Video Music Awards.
Financial, Drug, And Legal Troubles
No matter how successful he was or how much money he made, problems seemed to follow the late rapper everywhere he went.
He declared bankruptcy 3 times in his life, the first being in 2013. During his career he also spent time in jail for drug possession, animal cruelty, tax evasion, DUI, and failure to pay child support for his 15 children. It's estimated that at the time of his death he owed close to $1.5 million in back child support.
In 2012, police raided his Fort Lee, NJ home where they confiscated 12 pit bull dogs, several guns, and marijuana.
In 2015, he was arrested after committing a robbery in Newark, NJ.
He failed to pay taxes from 2010 to 2015, claiming he'd made no money, but it was proven that he'd made over $2.3 million during that time.
The rapper had a lifelong struggle with addiction, having admitted to using crack cocaine at the age of 14. In 2016, he was found unresponsive in the parking lot of a hotel. Narcan had to be used to revive him. He did make attempts at recovery, entering rehab in 2002, 2017, and 2019.
On April 2, 2021, DMX was rushed to the hospital from his home in White Plains, NY. He had suffered a massive heart attack and was in a coma. After several days, he was said to have been in a vegetative state, with little to no brain activity and his organs failing. On April 9, he passed away.
Later that month, there was a celebration of his life held at The Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY. Fellow wrapper Kanye West has his Sunday Service Choir lead the ceremony. DMX's casket rolled in on a huge monster truck. Stars like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys were in attendance.
As for his estate, he left no will, so there were no clear instructions and no appointed executor of what little estate remained. 5 of his adult children ran to the courthouse to petition to be put in charge.
But with no will, New York State law mandates that everything be split equally among surviving family members. In this case, DMX had no wife, so his 15 children would share what was said to be around $50,000 in assets.
However, its estimated that DMX has about $17 million in royalties that are due to him. Chances are, there will be a tidy sum left over after all his many debts are paid. But how much each of his children will get is unknown.
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Written by Allen Lee
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