It’s almost impossible to teach an old dog new tricks but even countless stints in jail won’t break the spirit of an underdog who has been fighting for survival his entire life . Earl “DMX” Simmons has served skid bids on the reg, since becoming an international rap star in 1999. His string of arrests, include everything from misdemeanor Marijuana possession to aggravated assault. Most recently, DMX is finishing up his latest sentence for parole violation, which he was hit with last December after getting caught drinking alcohol at a performance. Looking to stay on the straight and narrow for good, X granted VIBE an exclusive prison interview to explain his side of the story, quest to stay sober, new album, reality show and love life. This is the true story of Dark Man X pt. 1. —Mikey Fresh
VIBE: Good to hear from you, X. So when are you coming home exactly?
DMX: I got like 28 days, man.
Is there like an exact date that you’re going to touch down?
Yeah, July 13th. The thing about this place is that they keep changing your date. I know the math don’t add up, but you know that’s what happens.
You definitely sound like you’re in good spirits this time around.
Yeah. What I decided to do this time is that—usually when I go to jail, I do all my push-ups and pull-ups and get my workout routine in. But I said I’m going to fall back on that and just exercise the mind this time around.
What kind of literature are you reading now?
The bible. Practicing certain ways of acting, you know what I’m saying? Ways of doing things, frames of mind.
Being in jail isn’t a new thing for you. Can you honestly say you’ve learned something new from being locked up this time?
In a way, yeah. I realized that [change] is something that I want do this time. Like the last few times I couldn’t wait to get out and go have a drink. Like all my focus was on going to the club or things of that nature. Now, I’m in a frame of mind where I’m like ‘right into the studio and get my grind on.’
So right now you don’t even want to party? You want to go straight to work when you get out?
Yeah, straight to work. When I get out I’m going to pick my daughter up, and I had another baby since I been in here, so I’m going take my daughter to see my other daughter, I’m going to hang out for the day, and at night I’m going into the studio.
Are you still working on that gospel album or we getting the DMX we’re used to?
It’s going be the regular Dog. See, the gospel is still in the locker, but I want show them that I can [still] do this first.
Is there a title that you got for the new album yet?
Yeah I’m working on a title. It’s funny how it came up. I was stuck between two titles. The first one was Redemption and the second title was Beast. And somebody hit me like, why don’t you make it Redemption of the Beast.
Sounds like your comeback album so to speak.
Yeah, the album is going to be bananas. I mostly recorded it before I even got in here.
How many songs do you already have?
Um, about 20 – 26 joints.
Yeah I got about 7 more to lay when I get out.
Producer-wise who have you worked with so far?
Swizz, Scott Storch, umm you know, Grease, PK. People from the first album. This new producer—well he ain’t new, but I don’t know if you heard of him. Caviar?
Yo, he hit me with some joint that’s bananas! It’s crazy.
How about feature-wise? You got any guests on there or is this like an all X record?
This pretty much would be an all X record. But Swizz did the single. I got Sean Kingston on the Scott Storch record. Of course I got a little LOX on there. Drag, you know. Keep it family tight. It’s going be a few features, but nothing crazy. I got Tyrese on a couple of joints.
I don’t think anyone really expected that.
Yeah. And yo, the joints is hard, too. They got the little R&B feel to ‘em, but they hard! Like “How’s It Going Down” was, you know what I’m saying? It was hardcore, but it was a love story.
It seems like this album is going have a lot more diversity than you’ve ever had before.
Yeah. Cause you know what, this is the longest I’ve taken to ever come out with an album. Usually they put me in the studio for 30 days and say you got 30 days to make the album. I’ve had the luxury, even though it really wasn’t considered a luxury, but I’ve had the luxury of being able to take my time with it.
How long has this album actually been in the making?
I’d say about a year. Now you gotta remember, out of that year I spent most of that time in jail.
Right. It seemed like you were going in and out at that time so much. Was there one specific reason why?