Q: There are recurring themes in your music: redemption and living without morality. How does that apply to this film and your acting as opposed to music?
DMX: I had actual events and issues to draw from. I think that is the theme of my life. Right, wrong, good, bad, heaven, hell. I think you have to know both in order to honestly choose one. So I'm familiar with both sides of the fence. That was the character. All right, be a grimy nigga for a minute, then f*** around and get a conscience.
Q: How do you apply that to your career?
DMX: Well, I'm not a grimy person, so it doesn't really apply. I already got past that point. Do dirt, get dirt. So I treat people with the same respect that I want. I don't walk around big headed. I'm not a superstar. I'm a man like you're a man. We're all people. It's a mutual respect. I'm not going to disrespect you, don't disrespect me. I say what's up, I'm easygoing, but if you violate, s**t happens.
Q: What attracted you to this film and the role of King David?
DMX: I've read every one of Donald Goines' books. So as soon as I heard there was an opportunity for one of his novels to be turned into a movie, I jumped at the opportunity.
Q: Why King David?
DMX: Well, who else would I choose in that movie? It was brought to me. Someone brought it to me and I thought yeah, I'm with it. I knew I could do the King thing.
Q: Is this character different than the previous ones you've played?
DMX: Yes. Well, my last three movies, all with Warner Brothers, I was kind of the same person. Black guy doing karate, lotta money. It's all right for one or two movies, but there's not much realism in that character. This is a chance, this character, I don't want to walk off in the sunset with the girl and everything is right. Reality hits. Despite the fact that I'm coming to terms with the wrongs that I've done, I still get what I deserve.
Q: Is there a message in the movie?
DMX: The message is you do dirt, you get dirt. You get what you get.
Q: Explain the message in terms of the characters of the girls?
DMX: Well, he didn't get it like they got it. He'd give them heroine, tell them it's coke, just to get them strung out. This is a ruthless bastard. I didn't like him as a character, because of some of the things he did, but I'm glad I was able to play him well enough to where it's believable.
Q: How do you expect women to respond to it?
DMX: To the movie? I suppose somebody will be upset. Somebody's upset with every movie. But there's a few sex scenes in there, so I don't think women will be too upset.
Q: How did you discover Goines and how did you apply what you read?
DMX: I was locked up for a term when I read the first book of his. It was like here were a set of novels that didn't always have a happy ending. There were a lot of things that I could relate to. A lot of the characters I knew.
Q: What did you find out about working with Ernest Dickerson and being a producer, with little rehearsal time?
DMX: No rehearsal time.
Q: Was that different from Warner Brothers?
DMX: Yes, it was a much smaller budget. The energy level was more intense because it was like we have this amount of time to shoot it. There wasn't much time for error. We had a lot of shots in like one or two takes. That's all due to the fact that we had a great cast, great crew. We all got along and would work with each other. That made for a great product.
Q: What kind of producer are you?
DMX: A new producer.
Q: What does it mean for you?
DMX: That I have to attend a lot of meetings. Have to be there for a lot of the talking about. I didn't really enjoy that part of it, but I did it. I was in on the casting, everything.
Q: What other roles do you want to play besides the rich black guy?
DMX: There's a lot of roles I'd love to play. Giving you an idea of the character would be somewhat giving away the story, and these are things that are on the table right now. It's not always going to be about that. This is more realistic movies with good stories. I think that's very important.
Q: Can you talk about DMX the family man and Bloodline films?
DMX: When I'm at home, I don't discuss business. I don't talk business. I don't answer the phone. It's just me, my wife, my children, my dogs. That's my world. We go out, take a ride in one of the low riders or something. Totally different person than when I'm working. But the work comes to some headaches.
Q: You don't bring it home?
Q: And Bloodline films?
DMX: Bloodline films, this is our first project... And ContentFilm. I'm glad it went as successful as it did, staying within budget, knocking out what we had to knock out. The color looks great. I have about my next I think maybe three or four projects, will be under Bloodline films as well.
Q: You won't do a movie unless you produce it?
DMX: No, I wouldn't say that. But right now, that's what I'm focusing on because I have a lot of good stories.
Q: Are you comfortable under the pressure of one or two takes?
DMX: Yeah. I actually become the character for the duration of the movie, on and off set. I try to stay not all the way in where I expect somebody to call me King or something, but I might take the walk home, or the way the character talks, I might take that home, the body language.
Q: Can you talk about the character's talk?
DMX: I did a couple of things. For one, I had to learn how to walk comfortably in a suit, because I don't like suits at all. So that was one of the hardest things. Not just walking, but walk like I like to wear suits. The talk, because I usually talk kind of fast. I didn't think King David is as amped as I am. I don't think he has as much energy as I do, so I had to slow the whole thing down and just some old grandfather s**t, old man talking s**t to the younger person. 'What's wrong with you, boy?' Almost a Southern type of thing. But it wasn't that hard.
Q: Are you unapologetic?
DMX: In my choices? I think I make pretty good choices. I think there's nothing to be sorry about. My choices, I mean, I'm pretty much able to know what the outcome of every decision I make will be, so everything I ask for, I'll get. Even if it's not the right choice, I don't think I'd be apologetic because I knew what it was going to be before I made that decision.
Q: How is your artistic approach different from music to film?
DMX: [Starts getting exacerbated.] They're different because they're art forms in which I get to express and act out something. With the music it's verbally, of course, with the films it's physically. And difference? The money. Big difference.
Q: Which is bigger money?
DMX: In movies. In music, the highest paid artists get 18 cents off of a dollar and the record company still owns their product even though they paid for it. It's like straight robbery. Straight robbery. They give you nothing. Everything is an advance. But they'll offer it to you. 'Hey, we were looking at the new Range Rover. We thought it'd be a great idea if we got it for you.' And they'll get it for you, then you look on your PNL report, you've got $80,000. You end up thanking yourself. And they still advance you the money. They advance you the money, okay, that's cool. You give me the money, I make the music. After I pay you back the money, I should own the music, because that was the money, you put up the money. They still own it, they always own it and they ask for maybe 27 songs for each album, yet they only use about 16. And the rest they give away to soundtracks. It's robbery. I can't be a part of it anymore. I feel like I'm being disrespected...
Q: How close was Grand Champ recorded to this film?
DMX: You know, I really don't remember. Grand Champ took me the longest to record. I recorded in like five different states for this album. I went and did a few songs here, went and did a few songs here, a few songs there. That's just because of the bitter taste I had for the industry and what they really think about you. It's like you do so much for them, you make so much money for them, at the end of the day, you're nothing but a number. And if you don't cooperate with what they want, then they play the little game of okay, well, we'll not promote you as much as we normally have and see what happens there. They want to keep you hungry, keep you wanting that advance. The first time they heard I was doing a movie, they said, "No, no, he can't do a movie. He has to go over there and make–" What do you mean I can't do a movie? You stick with the music, mind your f***ing business. I'm going over here and I'm going to do this movie.
Q: Did you track down your grandfather?
DMX: Yeah, tracked him down, found out where he was at. I picked a time where I wasn't going to be too far out of it. I think I did a show in Atlanta; I had something going on in Atlanta. We took two stretch limos, rode to the town and I met him for the first time. It was cool. I didn't really know my father too much, so it's like you want to know the things about you that only your father or your grandfather could tell you. He don't even gotta tell you. You can just look at them and see why you do certain things. Like oh s**t, I do that too. It's like little things. You wonder why you do it, then you see them and it's like okay, then you also know how you're going to look when you get that age.
Q: Did he know DMX?
DMX: Yeah. It's like one of those really, really small towns. Half the roads were dirt roads. We had to park in the middle of the street. There was no parking anywhere. We stayed in the middle of the street.
Q: What town?
DMX: Fayette, Alabama.
Q: How difficult is it to be gracious with fans?
DMX: Extremely. Extremely, extremely, extremely because people don't understand that I am a person and I might not be having a particularly good day. I might have just gotten a phone call, some bad news, but they'll walk up and, this really f***s with me, when people just, like, ask me for s**t without saying hello. Say, 'Yo, what's up, how you doing? Dog, yo, hey.' Don't ask me for s**t until you've spoken to me first. Because I get this so much: 'I want a hug. I want a picture.' It's like, 'Hey, how you doing?'
Q: Have you ever given someone an attitude?
Q: What happened?
DMX: It makes me look bad either way, whether I'm right or wrong. It makes me look bad because I'm yelling and sometimes there's kids, though. They wonder why am I mad. That's not a side of me that they normally see. I was at a mall one time, minding my business. I had just gotten my food, about 10 of us, 15 of us, we were sitting down at the table. So this girl walks over and she's waving the tray there [saying] 'Oh, so you some big celebrity, so I guess you payin' for my lunch.' Like yells it out like crazy loud. I'm like, 'Girl, what the f*** are you talking about?' [She says] 'You're making all this money. I guess you payin' for...' Just going on and on. I'm like, 'Yo girlfriend, you don't even f***ing know me, you're gonna be talking like that? Pay for your own lunch. Don't nobody turn up at the food court without no money.' That was one time where it just got to me that time.
Q: Have you ever thought of releasing your own music on the Internet like Prince?
DMX: Yeah. I actually wanted to start a union. Protect the rights of the artist. We have no one to look out for our rights. We have a few people that look out for our [best interest] in terms of collecting our money, but what about what's right in a contract. The standard contract is five to seven years, five to seven albums. How the f*** do you call me a risk, yet you hold me down for five to seven years? And the average expectancy of any artist is three years. So you're already holding me for longer than you think I'm going to last. There is no risk factor. They got a lot of artists out there that's like straight garbage, and they play them so f***ing much that after a while, you find yourself singing their s**t. They control the market. They've got BET and MTV in their back f***ing pocket. They do favors for each other. All the radio stations are bought and paid for. It's like, 'Play this, play this, play this.' It all comes from the heads of the record companies. It's not even about talent anymore. It's about who they like, who's their guy, who's their buddy? I'm nobody's f***ing buddy. F*** that. I'm not cooperating. If you don't like it, f*** it.
Q: Is your music career over?
DMX: Yes, it is.
DMX's latest – and possibly last – album, Grand Champ
Q: You won't do it anymore?
DMX: I refuse to give another dime to that record label, to Def Jam. I gave them their best year. I made $144 million for them in one year. 144 million dollars in one year. Guess how much they gave me?
Q: $3 mil?
Q: $3 thou?
DMX: There you go. They didn't give me s**t. What they did was they loaned me three towards my next album. It was like soon as they give you that money, you already owe them two more albums. They don't give you anything. They advance you or they'll give you something and have you pay for it later.
Q: Is there that problem in the film industry?
DMX: No. Not that problem.
Q: As a producer, you own this movie?
Q: What about recording for soundtracks?
DMX: Well, because I'm signed to Def Jam, of course they're not going to allow me to sing. But this is some s**t. How the f*** do you tell me I can't sing another song for somebody else? That's why we need the union, for s**t like this. I'm an artist, I was an artist before I met y'all, I'm going to be after I leave y'all. How could you tell me that I can't put a song somewhere else?
Q: When does your contract expire?
DMX: Two years, something like that.
Q: What did you learn from Joel Silver about producing?
DMX: [Long pause.] No comment.
Q: What's the next Goines novel you're doing?
DMX: We're doing Daddy Cool.
Q: Will you be Daddy Cool?
DMX: I don't know. I'm not going to star in every one of my movies. But I'm telling you [pounds fists] what I will bring to this film industry is the same thing I brought to the record industry when I came into it. Realism. Uncompromised, unconditional dog love. Not love for everybody, but we gotta click, we tight, then we're going to bring official s**t to the table. Like official no big animated this, that and the others. The truth is undeniable. You tell somebody the truth, it's undeniable.
Q: Why is there a lack of realism in storytelling?
DMX: I don't know. You'd have to talk to the people that are writing these stories. I don't know. They're reaching right now. They're digging up comic heroes that half the people haven't heard of. A lot of the movies are the same thing over and over again but different actors. It's getting kind of redundant. The movie comes out, 'Oh, I saw that but I saw the one where Tom Hanks was in it.' It's the same s**t.
Q: Is this a different gangster story?
DMX: Yeah. Like I said, there's no hero walking off into the sunset. And that happens with every f***ing movie, man. It's like okay, you go through everything, but the guy doesn't die. He might die for three seconds and then come back to life.
Q: Do you look at movies of the '70s?
DMX: Yeah. Superfly, The Mack, all that s**t.
Q: Your favorite movie?
DMX: My favorite movie... Zoolander.
Q: How many dogs do you have?
DMX: I got seven dogs, but my main bitch is pregnant. It wasn't supposed to happen.
Q: What does street cred mean anymore and when can it be artificially constructed?
DMX: It can't be artificially constructed. The only way you can get street credibility is just from being official nigga on the street. Not too many of these rappers can go to the hood. Not too many of these rappers can walk through the projects by themselves without 50 motherf***ers. It's like yo, I'm good.
Q: Does it mean anything in terms of creating music?
DMX: Not really.
Q: Samuel Jackson once said rappers should stick to rapping and not act. What are your thoughts on that?
DMX: Just because someone raps, doesn't mean that's all they can do. A lot of people are multi-talented. Now, you're right. A lot of people get roles just because they're selling a few records and they suck. It's up to the producer to really make that decision and not allow that to happen. Because that's what you call selling out, when a producer puts a motherf***er because they sold a certain amount of records in a movie knowing they suck at acting.
Q: Will you ever change your billing from DMX?
DMX: Yes. Don't know when. I will.
Q: Tell me about Kato?
DMX: Kato. He gave me these dog tags. Friend of mine from Chicago. It says DMX on the front and it has my wife and my children's names on the back. This one says "Dogs" and it has my dogs that died on the back. It's a very considerate gift. I mean, good friend, man. We were working in the same studio and we just got close. I introduced him to stuff, he showed me stuff because he was like the head of the Latin Kings out there, but I never knew that. He was just a guy I met. And he was cool. He had pets and I had pets. I got him into remote control cars. S**t like that. We laughed a lot together.
Q: How old are your kids?
DMX: 11, 4 and 14 months. You gotta see the baby when he looks at the TV and sees me sitting there. He goes like, 'Da da?'
Q: Are any other artists interested in your union idea?
Q: Can you say who?
Q: Who would you like to star in a movie with?
DMX: Samuel Jackson.