Born Earl Simmons, 18 December 1970, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Simmons was raised from an early age by his aunt in Yonkers, New York. He took his name from the DMX digital sound machine, and developed a reputation as a DJ on the local projects. He won Source magazine's Unsigned Hype Award in January 1991, and released the promo single "Born Loser" for Columbia Records the following year. He managed to escape from Columbia's punitive contract, but little was heard from him afterwards apart from a 1994 single, "Make A Move". He made a dramatic re-entry onto the hip-hop scene with a show stopping appearance on LL Cool J's "4,3,2,1". Further cameos on Ma$e's "24 Hours To Live", the LOX's "Money, Power & Respect" and the remix of Ice Cube's "We Be Clubbin'" built up a highly marketable reputation. Newly signed to Ruff Ryders/Def Jam Records, DMX returned to recording with the powerful "Get At Me Dog" single, a US Top 40 single built around a B.T. Express guitar sample. Marketed as a return to the chaotic, raw roots of street rap, he became hip-hop's latest sensation during 1998 when his debut album, It's Dark And Hell Is Hot, entered the US Billboard album chart at number 1.
An impressive slice of east coast hardcore rap, the album centred around DMX's ferocious lyrical approach. The follow-up, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood, stayed at number 1 in the US for three weeks during January 1999. The album included cameo appearances from the Lox, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige ("Coming From") and Marilyn Manson ("The Omen'). After contributing to the Ruff Ryders" chart-topping Ryde Or Die Vol. 1 set, DMX quickly laid down tracks for his new album. Despite being his third release in the space of two years, ... And Then There Was X was another quality slice of hardcore rap and a welcome antidote to the bland hip-hop product still flooding the American market. The album followed its predecessors to the top of the US charts in January 2000