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.
Reviewed on: 10/14/2002 Release date: 11/01/2002 Genre: Nonfiction