By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Simmons was in New York in the weeks leading up to the raid, and says he'd hired a caretaker to look after his dogs. He says he wasn't aware until after the raid that the dogs were being checked on only once a day. The caretaker, Brad Blackwell, told sheriff's deputies he'd agreed to watch the dogs "for just a couple of days" while Simmons found another caretaker, and that he didn't want to look after them anymore.
The MCSO search log details the conditions of the dogs found on Simmons's property: Three canines had fecal matter on their legs, and four had various scars. Simmons raised many of the dogs from puppies, and reportedly even threw birthday parties for them. He says he was upset when he learned of their conditions.
Simmons skipped out on his court date in Maricopa County and went to Florida, where he was promptly arrested for driving on a suspended license. Four days later, he was arrested again in Miami, for attempting to purchase drugs from an undercover cop. Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told local media that as soon as Simmons stepped foot back in the state, he was going "straight to jail."
Simmons flew to Phoenix on July 2, 2008, and was immediately arrested at Sky Harbor airport. Seventeen days after posting bond, Simmons was arrested again, for allegedly providing false information to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to avoid paying medical bills.
He pleaded guilty to four of the charges stemming from the raid on his home, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 18 months of supervised probation. During his time in jail, he was placed in solitary confinement for allegedly throwing a food tray at a guard.
Simmons was released on probation in late April 2009. Everything seemed fine until 11 months later, when he was arrested after a drug test came back positive for cocaine. He pleaded guilty to violating his probation and got six months in jail. "It was a pretty good stretch," Simmons says. "At least I was in the AC."
He was released early for good behavior in July, after serving four months. A couple of weeks later, Tashera Simmons announced that the couple was separating after 11 years of marriage. She cited Simmons's years of drug use and legal battles, along with the fact that he fathered children by other women outside their marriage. But she tells us that the two are still on good terms.
Now separated from his wife, Simmons says he's trying to focus on himself and do positive things. Before he got arrested in November, he'd planned to participate in a December charity event to raise $500 each for 20 Phoenix families in need.
He's also trying to strengthen his relationship with God. "I read the entire Bible in lockdown," he says. Asked what he got out of that, he says simply, "Peace."
Simmons has lyrics, dating back to the beginning of his career, that describe an intense love-hate relationship with God.
On his 1998 album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood there's a song called "Ready to Meet Him," where DMX talks directly to God: "I thought that I was special—that's what you told me/Hold me! Stop acting like you don't know me/What'd I do so bad that it sent you away from me?"
When Simmons started attending Morning Star Sanctified Church in Phoenix last year, Pastor Barbara King had no idea he was "the famous rapper DMX." He was just "Brother Earl," who helped fix things around the church and asked for prayer. She says in all the time she's known him, he's only used a cuss word around her once—and then apologized profusely. He even performed a gospel concert fundraiser at the church last April, where he alternated between rapping and preaching.
"If you listen to his prayers and the hurt inside him, he is crying out for help," King says. "He's a great person, someone you can depend on...he does know the word of God. He just needs deliverance."
As part of trying to get his life together, Simmons turned himself in to authorities in Los Angeles last July, for a reckless driving charge he received in 2002. He served 18 days of a 90-day sentence.
MANY OF THE new DMX songs were written and recorded on the first take, right after he heard the beats for the first time.
"He is truly one of the world's greatest rappers and a genuine poet," says Don Salter, owner of Salt Mine Recordings in Mesa, where DMX recorded Walk with Me Now and Fly with Me Later. "He has a spontaneous ability to rhyme, reason, and record masterpieces on the fly."
Many of the new songs reflect on DMX's chaotic life in Arizona. Perhaps most haunting is the track "Soldier," which begins with a collage of sound bites from news stations about his various arrests, laid down over a melancholy piano hook and marching beat. In the first verse, DMX raps: "Ran through the streets, made it out of NY/Come to AZ, cowboys trying to end my/Man, you can't be serious homie/Besides mountains, ain't a fucking thing you can show me."