The cash strapped Def Jam was eager to get another album out and released the 2nd DMX project of the year with Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. The controversial cover had DMX in a bathtub full of blood. The album featured a duet called Omen with Marilyn Manson (though the two never met, it was the product of a recording studio match). This and the success of Jay-Z helped catapult Def Jam from near extinction in the prior year to the leader of the hip-hop pack, as the downward spiraling Bad Boy Records (Puff Daddy) and the post Tupac Death Row Records were headed in the opposite direction. His latest album, ...And Then There Was X, has been his biggest hit to date, helped in large part by an all-out media blitz in support of its release. He appeared on Saturday Night Live, Queen Latifah, as well as an episode of Moesha.
Like Tupac, DMX's post celebrity life has been touched with crimes and alleged misdeeds. In 1998, charges that he raped a 29 year old stripper were dropped after DNA tests on the woman came back negative for a match. In addition, he's been arrested in connection with stabbings in Denver and Yonkers, though both of those cases were dropped.
He also was arrested on drug paraphernalia and weapons charges in addition to spending two nights in a Trinidad jail for swearing during a concert, were the practice is legally forbidden. Ironically, his hit What's My Name has drawn protests from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which they say glamorizes dog fighting, though Def Jam countered that there is no actually dog fighting in the video and that no dogs were harmed. DMX's own love for dogs supports the theory that were was no bad intent with the video, as he has said "I used to take dogs on the street. I used to bring them home if I could, make somewhere for them to sleep right outside the building. I had dogs as long as I could remember, you know."
Toward the end of 1999, DMX released his third album, ...And Then There Was X, which became his third straight to debut at number one. It also produced his biggest hit single since "Get at Me Dog" with "Party Up (Up in Here)," which became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts. The follow-ups "What You Want" and "What's My Name?" were also quite popular, and their success helped make ...And Then There Was X the rapper's best-selling album to date, moving over five million copies. During its run, DMX returned to the big screen with a major supporting role in the Jet Li action flick Romeo Must Die. In the meantime, he was indicted by a Westchester County, NY, grand jury on weapons and drug charges in June of 2000.
He also entangled himself in a lengthy legal battle with police in Cheektowaga, NY (near Buffalo), when he was arrested in March for driving without a license and possession of marijuana. He missed one court date, and when he turned himself in that May, police discovered more marijuana in a pack of cigarettes the rapper had brought with him. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, and his appeal to have the sentence reduced was finally denied in early 2001. After stalling for several weeks, he turned himself in and was charged with contempt of court. He was further charged with assault when, upon learning he would not be let out early for good behavior, allegedly threw a food tray at a group of prison officers. He later bargained the charges down to reckless assault and paid a fine, and accused guards of roughing him up and causing a minor leg injury.
Not long after DMX's release from jail, his latest movie, the Steven Seagal action film Exit Wounds, opened at number one in the box office. DMX also contributed the hit single "No Sunshine" to the soundtrack, and signed a multipicture deal with Warner Bros. in the wake of Exit Wounds' success. With his legal problems finally resolved, he returned to the studio and completed his fourth album, the more introspective The Great Depression.
It was released in the fall of 2001 and became his fourth straight album to debut at number one. Although it went platinum quickly, it didn't have the same shelf life as his previous releases. In late 2002, DMX published his memoirs as E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX, and also recorded several tracks with Audioslave (i.e., the former Rage Against the Machine). One of their collaborations, "Here I Come," was featured on the soundtrack of DMX's next film, a reunion with Jet Li called Cradle 2 the Grave. The film opened at number one upon its release in March 2003, and its DMX-heavy soundtrack debuted in the Top Ten.