DMX began to beatbox with Ready Ron in 1984. Gabriel Grevenstuk from The Source magazine praised him in his 1991 “Unsigned Hype” column, which highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. A year later, Columbia Records signed DMX to their subsidiary label Ruffhouse, who released his debut single “Born Loser”. The single did not get much air play. The label eventually agreed to release DMX from their contract. He released his second single, “Make a Move” in 1994, and made a guest appearance on LL Cool J’s single “4, 3, 2, 1″ in 1997. Additional guest spots on Mase singles “24 Hours to Live” and “Take What’s Yours”, and The LOX’s single “Money, Power & Respect” created a strong buzz. DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for “Makes No Difference”. At WrestleMania XXVII, during a promo package for professional wrestler John Cena, DMX gave a special sermon, which reflects his ministry beliefs and the church-like entrance of Cena.
In February 1998, DMX released his debut major-label single, “Get at Me Dog”, on Def Jam Recordings. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA. His first major-label album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which included the single “Ruff Ryders Anthem”, was released in May 1998. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S and sold over five million copies.
Later that year in December, DMX released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, where it remained for three consecutive weeks. Within one week of the album’s release, 670,000 units were shipped. It was eventually certified Platinum four times. As a result, DMX was the second rapper in history (following Tupac Shakur) to have released two albums in the same year, which both debuted at number one on Billboard 200.
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