E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX

( 38 )

Overview

The dark journey of a boy who became a man, the man who became an artist, and the artist who became an icon. A talent for rhyme saved his life, but the demons and sins of his past continue to haunt him.

This is the story of Earl Simmons.

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Overview

The dark journey of a boy who became a man, the man who became an artist, and the artist who became an icon. A talent for rhyme saved his life, but the demons and sins of his past continue to haunt him.

This is the story of Earl Simmons.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Anthony DeCurtis
Earl Simmons, the rapper better known as DMX, has had his first four albums enter the charts at No. 1—the only artist ever to run off such a successful streak. That record is especiallynotable because, in a hip-hop world rendered blindingly bright by the glint of diamonds and bling-bling ostentation, DMX keeps it ruthlessly real. His songs are ferocious, street-level battlegrounds, charged in equal part by explosive violence and a desperate yearning for spiritual redemption. Those same currents drive his autobiography, a collaboration with the journalist Smokey D. Fontaine. Characteristically, DMX makes no effort to justify his depredations—particularly the violent robberies that provided his livelihood for long stretches of his teens and early twenties. He depicts himself in such incorrigible terms, in fact, that by the time he's beaten so badly that his jaw needs to be wired shut for three months, you feel he's gotten only what he deserves. Still, somehow, you're rooting for him every step on his long, slow climb to stardom. That contradiction sums up why this book is like hip-hop at its best—it's a fearsome, unrelenting narrative that raises many more issues than it resolves, and leaves the reader feeling both exhilarated and deeply unsettled.
Publishers Weekly
With lyrics that balance an extremely bleak view of urban ghetto "thug life" with a deep spiritual yearning for communion with God, DMX (Earl Simmons) has produced four consecutive No. 1 releases over the past six years, making him one of the undisputed superstars in the hypercompetitive world of hip-hop. On the eve of his fifth release, DMX (with Fontaine, the former music editor of the leading hip-hop magazine, The Source) has chosen to tell his own version of his already well-publicized life story. Born to a single mother in the projects of Yonkers, N.Y., DMX led a life of "running, robbing, rapping" for his first 25 years, serving numerous jail terms until being discovered by the legendary rap record company Def Jam. But this is no quickie celebrity biography: the obvious model is Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land, the classic tale of the rise and fall and redemption of a tough inner-city youth. Like Brown, DMX is unsparing in describing the details of his hard life, including the brutal beatings he experienced at the hands of his mother and her boyfriends and the ease with which he adapted to his incarcerations ("I was used to sleeping on hard surfaces, used to eating rotten food"). As successful as his best recordings ("It's Dark & Hell Is Hot") in describing the tension between the author's street and spiritual sides, this is a painfully honest account of how one individual overcame "a lifetime of suffering" by discovering and believing in his lyric talent. (Nov.) Forecast: To be published just before Simmons's latest recording is out, this should gain a wide readership. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Born to an abusive mother and a father who drifted out of his life, DMX was a bright child in the gritty projects of Yonkers, New York. Too unruly for school, he was sent to a group home. When released, he turned to theft and eventually earned the nickname, "Crazy Earl." He wrote some of his best material and developed his signature style at various trips to jail. Brushes with the law and a violent attack that nearly took his life threatened to derail his career; however, his determination, faith, and superior skills as an MC enabled him to achieve his dreams and sell more than 25 million albums worldwide. Although the writing quality is inconsistent, teens with an interest in hip hop and rap culture or those who enjoyed books such as Sister Souljah's Coldest Winter Ever (Pocket, 1999) or Angry Blonde by Eminim (Marshall Mathers, Regan/HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA December 2001) will devour this first-person account. As DMX recounts his past to Montaine, an editor at Source magazine, nothing is sugar-coated. Mature readers will appreciate DMX's honesty about his criminal past and his passion for his family. The appearances of Mary J. Blidge, Jay-Z, and Sean "P-Diddy" Combs add to the authenticity. This book is highly recommended for libraries whose customers are interested in rap and in books that are set in an urban milieu. It should be noted that the coarse language, depictions of violence, and descriptions of women might be deemed highly offensive by some and should be considered when placing the book in a young adult collection. An appendix of his song lyrics is provided. Appendix. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with aspecial interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, HarperEntertainment, 346p,
— Aimee Lurie
Library Journal
Simmons's rise from impoverished child in Yonkers, NY, to successful hip-hop artist DMX known the world over is indeed an inspiring tale. But here the performer, aided by Fontaine (former music editor of The Source magazine), puts a bit too much emphasis on his violent formative years. Readers must wade through endless accounts of fights, beatings, and compromising positions involving the subject before reaching DMX's later critical and commercial success. Curiously, his artistic accomplishments are given only cursory treatment when they deserve much more; only serious fans will be interested in all the minutiae of his life revealed here. Although this is the first book devoted to DMX, libraries would do better to wait for a more balanced treatment. Not recommended. [DMX will release a new album in December, which may generate some demand for this book; because it will attract many YAs, librarians should take into account its graphic content.-Ed.]-Caroline Dadas, Hickory Hills, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060934033
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/21/2003
  • Edition description: First Paperback Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 229,890
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Smokey D. Fontaine is the former music editor of The Source and coauthor of What's Your HI-FI Q? He has written extensively about the entire spectrum of hip-hop and rhythm and blues for more than a decade. He lives in New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

First Memories

My name is Earl Simmons. I was born December 18, 1970, in Mount Vernon, New York, the first and only child of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker. I've always hated my first name because it always sounded so corny to me and no, I don't have any middle names. Why my mother couldn't give me the names of some of the other men she dated, I don't know. There were certainly enough of them around. My mother found out she was pregnant with me when she was nineteen. It was bad because she already had a two-year-old, Bonita, and hadn't planned on having another baby. So she moved into this home for unwed mothers in Mount Vernon and asked her sister to take Bonita off her hands for a while because her "nerves were shot." My sister ended up staying with her until way after I was born while my mother tried to get her life together.

When I was one, my mother's mom died and even though she didn't grow up with her, my mother lost the only other person she felt she could look to for help. Laverne wouldn't take both of her kids, so my mother was forced to realize that she had to find a place of her own. Yonkers had more low-income housing than Mount Vernon, so that's where we went.

We lived in a small, dark, one-bedroom apartment in a building called the Roker. My mother was on public assistance and it was really hard for her to take care of us and pay all the bills and the rent at the same time. I was also sick a lot as a child. I inherited a bunch of allergies from her and bronchial asthma from my father. My shit used to be real bad. I remember many scary nights waking up not being able to breathe. My mother used tohave to take me to the emergency room and they would often end up keeping me overnight. Sometimes my asthma got so bad they would keep me for a whole week and they never could find the right thing to do. One night I had to go back to the hospital three different times because the drugs they were sending me home with kept making me sick. Then the doctors would give me breathing treatments. I had to lie down in this criblike bed that had a white net over it and they would pump in this medicated air. You couldn't move or get out and I remember being trapped in there having to just breathe in and out for hours. In the spring and summer I was under that net almost every week. I never knew if it helped or not. One time I had such a bad asthma attack my sister told me that my heart stopped beating and the paramedics had to take me out of my house in one of those sit-up stretchers because I almost died. I don't remember that, but I do remember the day I got hit by a car.

I was playing by myself in the street and found a dime. I was so excited; it was all silver and shiny. I immediately wanted to go to the store but the problem was that I knew I had to cross Riverdale Avenue to get there, and that was a pretty major trip for a kid my age.

But after a few seconds, I summoned up my courage and with a little burst of speed, made it across and got to buy what I wanted: a lollipop and a superball. You know those balls that bounce all crazy and go in different directions? Yeah! I'm the man ...

It was on the way back that I caught it. The impact was so hard, I got knocked halfway up the street, all the way under a parked car. But for some reason, even though I was badly hurt, I didn't feel nothing. All I was thinking about was how my mother was going to whip my ass because I wasn't supposed to be outside.

When I tried to get up, this white lady with a clipboard was standing over me; she must have been checking parking meters or something.

"Stay down! Stay down!" she kept yelling.

Then other people walked by and they started screaming. I can imagine how folks must have felt to see a little boy pushed under a car like that, though. Everyone crowded around and then somebody gave me a jacket to put under my head and I just lay on the street until the ambulance came.

Luckily, I didn't break anything, so I got better in a few weeks, but what hurt the most was when I found out later that I could have gotten some money from the accident. See, not only had the driver run a red light, but he was also drunk. A month after the accident an insurance company man had come to my house talking about a settlement and my mother turned down ten thousand dollars!

"Thank you, but we don't need your money, sir," my mother told him. "My family is Jehovah's Witness and our faith teaches us to be self-sufficient."

Huh? That was the loot that was supposed to be mine when I got older, the money I could have been straight with! Half of the kids in the ghetto get a little bit of money when they reach a certain age for something that happened to them when they were younger. Why not me? And if the insurance company was offering ten thousand dollars, my mother could have held out and got a lot more, too. Hitting a child, drunk driving, and running a red light? I didn't understand why Jehovah's Witness would have wanted to mess with my money ...

E.A.R.L.. Copyright © by Elizabeth DMX. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

E.A.R.L.
The Autobiography of DMX

Chapter One

First Memories

My name is Earl Simmons. I was born December 18, 1970, in Mount Vernon, New York, the first and only child of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker. I've always hated my first name because it always sounded so corny to me and no, I don't have any middle names. Why my mother couldn't give me the names of some of the other men she dated, I don't know. There were certainly enough of them around. My mother found out she was pregnant with me when she was nineteen. It was bad because she already had a two-year-old, Bonita, and hadn't planned on having another baby. So she moved into this home for unwed mothers in Mount Vernon and asked her sister to take Bonita off her hands for a while because her "nerves were shot." My sister ended up staying with her until way after I was born while my mother tried to get her life together.

When I was one, my mother's mom died and even though she didn't grow up with her, my mother lost the only other person she felt she could look to for help. Laverne wouldn't take both of her kids, so my mother was forced to realize that she had to find a place of her own. Yonkers had more low-income housing than Mount Vernon, so that's where we went.

We lived in a small, dark, one-bedroom apartment in a building called the Roker. My mother was on public assistance and it was really hard for her to take care of us and pay all the bills and the rent at the same time. I was also sick a lot as a child. I inherited a bunch of allergies from her and bronchial asthma from my father. My shit used to be real bad. I remember many scary nights waking up not being able to breathe. My mother used to have to take me to the emergency room and they would often end up keeping me overnight. Sometimes my asthma got so bad they would keep me for a whole week and they never could find the right thing to do. One night I had to go back to the hospital three different times because the drugs they were sending me home with kept making me sick. Then the doctors would give me breathing treatments. I had to lie down in this criblike bed that had a white net over it and they would pump in this medicated air. You couldn't move or get out and I remember being trapped in there having to just breathe in and out for hours. In the spring and summer I was under that net almost every week. I never knew if it helped or not. One time I had such a bad asthma attack my sister told me that my heart stopped beating and the paramedics had to take me out of my house in one of those sit-up stretchers because I almost died. I don't remember that, but I do remember the day I got hit by a car.

I was playing by myself in the street and found a dime. I was so excited; it was all silver and shiny. I immediately wanted to go to the store but the problem was that I knew I had to cross Riverdale Avenue to get there, and that was a pretty major trip for a kid my age.

But after a few seconds, I summoned up my courage and with a little burst of speed, made it across and got to buy what I wanted: a lollipop and a superball. You know those balls that bounce all crazy and go in different directions? Yeah! I'm the man ...

It was on the way back that I caught it. The impact was so hard, I got knocked halfway up the street, all the way under a parked car. But for some reason, even though I was badly hurt, I didn't feel nothing. All I was thinking about was how my mother was going to whip my ass because I wasn't supposed to be outside.

When I tried to get up, this white lady with a clipboard was standing over me; she must have been checking parking meters or something.

"Stay down! Stay down!" she kept yelling.

Then other people walked by and they started screaming. I can imagine how folks must have felt to see a little boy pushed under a car like that, though. Everyone crowded around and then somebody gave me a jacket to put under my head and I just lay on the street until the ambulance came.

Luckily, I didn't break anything, so I got better in a few weeks, but what hurt the most was when I found out later that I could have gotten some money from the accident. See, not only had the driver run a red light, but he was also drunk. A month after the accident an insurance company man had come to my house talking about a settlement and my mother turned down ten thousand dollars!

"Thank you, but we don't need your money, sir," my mother told him. "My family is Jehovah's Witness and our faith teaches us to be self-sufficient."

Huh? That was the loot that was supposed to be mine when I got older, the money I could have been straight with! Half of the kids in the ghetto get a little bit of money when they reach a certain age for something that happened to them when they were younger. Why not me? And if the insurance company was offering ten thousand dollars, my mother could have held out and got a lot more, too. Hitting a child, drunk driving, and running a red light? I didn't understand why Jehovah's Witness would have wanted to mess with my money ...

E.A.R.L.
The Autobiography of DMX
. Copyright &#copy; by Barry DMX. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 38 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    February 2010 - Great Read

    I finally got around to reading this book and was not let down. I've always been a fan of DMX, and ever since I saw him perform live I became more interested in his story. Sure, a lot of his lyrics are rough and receive a lot of bad press for being violent, but he also has another side to his music that is deep and spiritual. All of his songs have meaning that connect to his real life. Without a doubt, this is a well written and emotional book where the reader will sympathize with D through his good and bad. Highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    NICK WIEMELT It's astonishing how DMX (Earl Simmons) overcame an

    NICK WIEMELT
    It's astonishing how DMX (Earl Simmons) overcame an extremely troubled childhood to become one of the most admired icons in 
    hip-hop music. When you watch a famous person on T.V. or listen to them on the radio the first thing that you think about is how rich 
    and famous they are, but you never think about how much they've been through. DMX went through many traumatic things in his life 
    such as being beaten by his mom, going in and out of jail, and being addicted to crack. He was far from shy in sharing the memories
    of his life, good and bad in this autobiography. As a child, DMX was abused by his mother and didn't have anyone to take care of him
    except for his grandmother, which his mother rarely allowed him to see. Growing up in the projects of Yonkers didn't make it any easier
    for him either. However, his passion for music opened a brand new door for him, which completely turned his life around. I really
    enjoyed this book, I couldn't stop reading it once I started. Autobiographies are my favorite types of books to read because they can teach
    a person a lot about life in general. Learning not only from your mistakes, but from other people's mistakes is crucial in succeeding in life.
    I liked this book in particular because it was very in depth. DMX tells the story of his life and finds a way to make it interesting and 
    intriguing. Most of the autobiographies that I've read are boring and don't keep me hooked, this one is different. I give this book five stars
    hands down, it is amazing! I recommend this book to anyone who is a DMX fan, everyone who likes to read about someone else's life,
    and everyone who is interested in knowing more about DMX. This book showed that you can achieve your goals through hard-work and
    dedication, also that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The life of DMX is an intense story that I suggest you read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    This was the most detailed and well written biography i have rea

    This was the most detailed and well written biography i have read about any hip hop artist. It was great fans should read it'll shed some light on the artist that the music doesnt even capture than this book does

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2009

    One of the best books to read to appreciate life and value things.

    DMX shows the value of life. The struggles he lived, he tries to show you the reader what life can be if your like him. Having no dad to give love and a mom who was to busy doing other things; DMX turns to a dog for love.
    A dog which is a mans best friend becomes DMX's best friend. Good Book to read for those who like real life stories. It's recommended!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    Hard life but easy future

    I think that Earl Simmons did a great job with the title of his autobiography. The title E.A.R.L. stands for ''Ever Always Real Life'' and that title explains his whole life with four words. I actually enjoyed this book and the title got me intrested in it because i wanted to know what the E.A.R.L. meant. DMX real name is Earl Simmons and thats where he got the title of the book from. In this book Earl talks about how his life was bad and how rapping changed his whole life around. DMX was a bad person and made plenty of mistakes and regrets some of them but still continue's his life. Alot of people didnt show DMX [Earl Simmons] support when he 1st started rapping but when he challeged someone on the corner and beat them in a freestyle match, his fame became big. When his popularity became big alot of people started to show him love and Earl didn't like that because when he wasn't popular people didn't show him any. His title is Ever Always Real Life and that means that,people won't show you love until your a celeberty or someone famous and that really pissed him off, because there were alot of times when he was poor an he asked alot of people can they help him and they couldn't even give him a dime, now that he's a famous rapper they want to show him some love. His father was never around to show him what's right and what's wrong, so that put his mother in a difficult position, she had to take care of him and his little sister and pay the rent, and work 2 or 3 jobs. His mother was a very hard working independent strong women who wouldn't accept anything from anybody because she knew that the lord will take care of her and her family. Earl was a talkative student and his mouth got him into alot of trouble in the classroom and with the police. This book takes place in his birthhood Yonkers, New York.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Couldn't put this book down, each page explained why DMX is DMX!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    long live dmx

    i finished this book in 3 days. just hearing about x's life from him makes me respect him even more as an artist and a person.good book for anybody

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    amazing

    I have read this book atleast 2-3 times everytime i read it i learn something new. This book got deep into dmx's childhood his imagination, feelings and redemption. I was trully great to see this from a rapper. I felt like i was sitting right next to him while he was telling the author how he was feeling.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2005

    GREAT BOOK!!!

    I have read mostly through all of this book and I got all the wayto when he gets out fo jail and then randomly someone stole this book out of my car.. SO i haven't finished it yet but what I read is amazing how far DMX has come.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2005

    Exiting, yet Honest!!

    I thought this was an outstanding book that should be read by all that don't understand. If you don't listen to rap you don't know what they're comming from, but I think this book shows its not always people who like to swear and talk dirty. But it is people who have true storys that are being expressed in a true art form. [Great Book]

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2004

    EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Straight forward and honest, when i first read this book i read it in two days. Although i could not get tired of reading this book (7th time reading it) please come out with another. I HIGHLY RECCOMEND THIS BOOK ! I LOVED IT!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2004

    SHOCKING/CRAZY/EVERYTHING I EXPECTED AND MORE

    This book is so so so so so so good.When u read this book u wont want to put it down,u can truly feel his emotions when u read it,when hes upset u are to etc.When ur towards the end of this book you'll just never want to finnish it,you'll want it to go on and on and on.I love this book with all my heart!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    X gonna give it to ya!!!

    After purchasing this book as a DMX music fan i soon found my self living his life through the book. This book shows what he has come throught to pursue his one and only live long dream. Any real DMX fan will appreciate this book and remember: Ever Always Real Life!!!!! Enjoy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2003

    A YO KATO

    This book is awesome the way DMX wrote this book it feels like your in a room with him talking to him. He talks about his first battle to his first sexual relationship and from spittin for 15 years then finally making it to the game. This book is great so go comp that and Grand Champ that album is awesome too. This is K Dot signing off . Peace (Hope This review helped)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2003

    This book was amazing! It gets 5 stars for me...

    I HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON WITH EARL SIMMONS (AKA) DMX. HIS BOOK WAS GOOD.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2003

    I LOVE THIS MAN

    DMX is so refreshing! As a rapper I enjoy his style because it's original and he is not all about the flash. I purchased this book as an adoring fan and I was not disappointed. He details his life and how he came to be and where he is today. I truly appreciated his honesty. I got 'DOG LOVE' for this brotha!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2003

    this book is gr8

    this is a gr8 book. he has a lot to tell... buy this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2003

    X has entered the building.

    E.A.R.L is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I appreciate the chance to read about and gain a better understanding of the man behind the music. DMX is a talented and gifted man. The book left me wanting to know more about him. Keep up the work we love you X.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2003

    X gon' give it to ya'

    I Personally have not read this, but i have read a lot about it. And X is my role model i look up to, so i think i will enjoy learning more about him. Much love to X. Peace

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2003

    IM THA #1 FAN OF X DAT EVEN I HAVE CHANGED MY NAME INTO X

    I HAVE NT READ DIS BOOK YET BUT I KNO DAT IT LL BE DA ANSWER TO DA PEOPLE DAT Y I LUV X.I LUV HIM SINCE HE STARTED HIS CAREER AS A RAPPER BUT I DONT LUV HIM CUZ HE IS A RAPPER OR HIS SONG ARE GOOD BUT I LUV HIM CUZ I UNDERSTAND HIS WORDS. I M ALSO GONNA OPEN AN AGENCY HERE IN PAKISTAN ON HIS NAME N SOMEDAY I LL MEET HIM N SHOW HIM DA PATH IN WHICH HIS SOUL WILL GET PEACE.GOD BLESS HIM [AMEN].

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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