Stupid. Fool. Money hungry. Those are just a few choice words the blogosphere has used to describe Tashera Simmons because of her decision to stay in a seemingly dysfunctional marriage for years. Most people only know her as DMX’s wife, but after years of separation (which she officially announced in late July) from what was once one of the most successful rappers in the game, there has to be more to her life than just being a rapper’s wife, right? She says yes.
Talking to the former Mrs. X leaves a familiar sense of de ja vu. When she stops chatter to chastise her youngest children for interrupting her conversation, it’s easy to see her as any other single mother who's persevered through strife. At this point in her life, Tashera is now working on healing from childhood abandonment and a marriage plagued by a drug-addicted, cheating husband, in her words, while establishing her own identity. She believes it’s her calling to inspire people and plans to share her life as motivation via a memoir, a reality show and a non-profit organization geared toward families who've dealt with drug-addicted relatives. The first lady of the most vicious dog in hip-hop chats it up with VIBE about life before and after X. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: Talk about the memoir you have coming out.
Tashera Simmons: It’s called Strength of a Woman. A lot of tell-all books that come out are negative and women are trying to down their mates that they were with but my story is definitely not about that. It’s just about somebody who has been with somebody that they loved⎯X is my first love and I’ve been with him since I was a kid. Unfortunately, he got sucked up in the devil’s playground. I don’t drink, smoke or anything so I went through this very clear headed, and it’s sad to see someone that I love so much get sucked into doing all these things that are the opposite of what he believes in. Another thing about my book is that my mom abandoned me as a child. I was 14 and I’m the oldest of seven. I had to raise my brothers and sisters. I have three sisters and three brothers. The youngest was one. The reason I say that is because I start my book off with that. I like to talk about that because a lot of people come to me and say that I’m really strong. That was the first devastating thing that happened in my life and I feel like that prepared me for X.
How involved was DMX in your life at that time?
I met X when I was 11 and we got together when I was 18. He helped me with the kids and everything⎯food, whatever.
You were very comforting to Irv Gotti's wife, Deb, on his VH1 reality show, Gotti’s Way. You seem like you’re a person to lean on.
Yeah, I have that mothering vibe.
Who was that person for you?
I kept a lot of things inside. That’s why I like these interviews because it started opening so many doors that I didn’t even know about. I used to keep so much stuff in but I feel like it was God who helped me. Even as a child⎯we were raised Muslim⎯but I was always very spiritual. And when my mom left I used to just talk to God. He has always been my personal friend since my mother first left. When I met X, he was so inspired because he lived right down the block from me. So when I first met him, one of my godsisters⎯her boyfriend was a DJ for X and he introduced us. And he was like, “My man X likes you,” and he introduced us and I remembered him from when we were kid, when I saw him take this old lady's pocketbook with his dog. I was like, “I remember you, I used to like you since I lived on Linden Street.” And he said he had a crush on me at school 18, our elementary school. I couldn’t believe it because I used to wear braces. We clicked since then.
He probably found some kind of stability in your situation.
My brothers and sisters were a little older then, but X was so inspired by how I took on a mother role for them and being there for him, especially because of his past. You know, his mom putting him in homes and stuff. Before him I never wanted to be with anybody that didn’t have because I went so long without having. But when I met X he was a real street dude⎯kind of a bully⎯but he had such a good heart. And I automatically took to him just hearing this story. I always just take to people that have been through something and that’s really what inspired me to start writing this book and doing my show because a lot of women and some men come up to me and ask how I do it because he seems so troubled. So I said, I’m going to write a book because I feel like X is misunderstood from all the stuff that he’s been through.
Explain why X is misunderstood.