Can DMX Pull off the Biggest Comeback in Hip-Hop History?
In the past three years, A Tribe Called Quest, Lil Wayne, and Little Brother have released long-awaited albums after various absences from the game. Can DMX — who has dealt with years of legal troubles and other demons — pull off his own comeback?
DMX recently told GQ magazine that he doesn’t set goals. He feels that his purpose is preordained by god.
That mindset has helped him earn achievements at the top of many aspiring artist’s goal lists. He’s sold over 17 million records and starred in several major Hollywood films. During Def Jam Records’ late ‘90s renaissance, it was him — not JAY-Z — who was the label’s flagship artist. He’s done a world of good in his 48 years.
He’s achieved all those things despite the kind of upbringing that would destroy a kid’s life before it started. He grew up with an abusive mother and spent his youth in and out of group homes (and later prison). The confluence of trauma that he experienced spurred a lifelong addiction to cocaine that derailed his career from the heights of stardom.
DMX has been arrested over 30 times for charges ranging from gun and drug possession to animal cruelty and reckless driving, Since his rap career took off in 1998, his longest jail stint was the 10 months he just served for tax evasion. Prosecutors sought a five-year sentence for his deliberate tax circumvention from 2000-2005. But his lawyer Murray Richman played his redemptive “Slippin” record in court, and presiding Judge Jed Rakoff noted that “he couldn’t not be affected by the circumstances” X reflected on in the song. It was a testament to his artistry: his music is so poignant and heartrending that it tipped the unforgiving scales of justice in his favor.
“Slippin’s” hook affirms, “I gots to get up. Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up.” And that’s exactly what DMX is trying to do in 2019. Since being released from jail in January, he’s re-signed to Def Jam Records and is working on new music that he says is “great.” The GQ photoshoot shows him looking healthier than he has in years. He’s been seen on social media dancing to Lisa Lisa and praying at Kanye’s Sunday Service. In the past three years, A Tribe Called Quest, Lil Wayne, and Little Brother have released long-awaited albums after various absences from the game.
Can DMX do the same?
A new DMX album — with the power of Def Jam’s machine behind him — would represent the biggest comeback ever. Lil Wayne had legal gripes with Birdman and Cash Money Records that delayed his Tha Carter V album, but he at least released the Free Weezy Album and ColleGrove with 2 Chainz in the meantime. DMX’s last major-label release was 2006’s Year Of The Dog…Again on Columbia Records. In that time, he’s been through numerous brushes with the law, and several public moments that made people question his peace of mind and overall health.
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From 2008 to 2011, he was arrested seven times, including charges of drug possession and violating drug probation. In 2009, he was charged with theft, drug-possession and animal-cruelty charges after a 2007 raid on his Arizona home and sentenced to 90 days in jail. In July 2010, he was arrested on a probation violation and sentenced to another 90 days in jail. Many of his subsequent brushes with the law have stemmed from drug possession and driving without a license, including multiple instances of driving under the influence.