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Simmons signed to Bodog Music in 2007 to record and release Walk With Me Now and Fly With Me Later. After Bodog Music shut down in 2008, International Arts Management and Her Royal Majesty's Records retained the rights to the songs. According to IAM CEO Peter Karroll, the plan is still to release the record.
"I've always felt the guy was a creative genius and deserved another shot," Karroll says. "This is a big record. I think this album has the potential to take him back to number one."
But Karroll doesn't want to release the record while Simmons is in jail, and it needs money for distribution and promotion. He says he has received several investor offers, but negotiations collapse whenever DMX lands in jail. Somebody who has sold millions of albums could conceivably live off publishing royalties, but Simmons admits that he never looked at his finances the first 10 years of his career.
When Walker came onboard and looked at Simmons' business papers last year, she says she discovered that someone had been stealing his publishing royalties for more than a decade.
On April 26, 2010, Simmons filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against Rich Kid Entertainment, a company that he hired in 1999 to collect his royalties. The lawsuit, which is still pending, alleges that instead of taking the 10-percent cut dictated by its contract with DMZ, Rich Kid pocketed 100 percent of Simmons' publishing profits.
Walker says she's doing everything she can to keep Simmons focused on positive things: "We're reaching out to Swizz [Beatz]. Busta Rhymes is calling. He wants to help. Flava Flav is calling. He wants to help. And I'm not lying to people. I'm telling them, 'He needs help. It's time we address it. It's time we come together and save his life. Or else he's going to die.'"
On a Thursday morning in December, Simmons is dressed in the black-and-white-striped suit of a Maricopa County prison inmate, waiting for his probationrevocation hearing to start. In recent days, bags had formed under his eyes. But today he looks rested, and thinner than a month ago.
When the hearing begins, Simmons pleads guilty to a felony probation violation. Judge Christine Mulleneaux accepts the plea but adds some observations.
"His substance-abuse issues are at the root of this problem," she says. "He's been on some type of substance since he was 14."
Simmons' probation-violation report shows that he admitted using cocaine on August 12 in Los Angeles and again on October 20. Drug tests were positive for cocaine on October 12, 15 and 25. He didn't show for a drug test on October 28.
"You went on a downward spiral," Mulleneaux tells Simmons. "Your criminal history goes back to 1988. It's going to continue if you don't take care of your mental health."
Prior to sentencing, the judge asks Simmons if he has anything to say. He bows his head. "I did make the effort that I could," he says. "And I appreciate any help you can give me."
Mulleneaux announces the sentence: one year in jail, minus 113 days already served. Simmons casts a disappointed glance at his attorney, then raises his head high. Though he receives the maximum sentence for his offense, he gets nearly four months shaved off right away. With no thrown trays, he might get out even sooner.
He turns to the handful of court spectators, who include Walker and a cousin. Simmons smiles. Walker wipes away tears.