The dark journey of a boy who became a man, the man who became an artist, and the artist who became an icon. A talent for rhyme saved his life, but the demons and sins of his past continue to haunt him.
This is the story of Earl Simmons.
|Edition description:||First Paperback Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.91(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Smokey D. Fontaine is the former music editor of The Source and coauthor of What's Your HI-FI Q? He has written extensively about the entire spectrum of hip-hop and rhythm and blues for more than a decade. He lives in New York.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One First Memories
My name is Earl Simmons. I was born December 18, 1970, in Mount Vernon, New York, the first and only child of Arnett Simmons and Joe Barker. I've always hated my first name because it always sounded so corny to me and no, I don't have any middle names. Why my mother couldn't give me the names of some of the other men she dated, I don't know. There were certainly enough of them around. My mother found out she was pregnant with me when she was nineteen. It was bad because she already had a two-year-old, Bonita, and hadn't planned on having another baby. So she moved into this home for unwed mothers in Mount Vernon and asked her sister to take Bonita off her hands for a while because her "nerves were shot." My sister ended up staying with her until way after I was born while my mother tried to get her life together.
When I was one, my mother's mom died and even though she didn't grow up with her, my mother lost the only other person she felt she could look to for help. Laverne wouldn't take both of her kids, so my mother was forced to realize that she had to find a place of her own. Yonkers had more low-income housing than Mount Vernon, so that's where we went.
We lived in a small, dark, one-bedroom apartment in a building called the Roker. My mother was on public assistance and it was really hard for her to take care of us and pay all the bills and the rent at the same time. I was also sick a lot as a child. I inherited a bunch of allergies from her and bronchial asthma from my father. My shit used to be real bad. I remember many scary nights waking up not being able to breathe. My mother used tohave to take me to the emergency room and they would often end up keeping me overnight. Sometimes my asthma got so bad they would keep me for a whole week and they never could find the right thing to do. One night I had to go back to the hospital three different times because the drugs they were sending me home with kept making me sick. Then the doctors would give me breathing treatments. I had to lie down in this criblike bed that had a white net over it and they would pump in this medicated air. You couldn't move or get out and I remember being trapped in there having to just breathe in and out for hours. In the spring and summer I was under that net almost every week. I never knew if it helped or not. One time I had such a bad asthma attack my sister told me that my heart stopped beating and the paramedics had to take me out of my house in one of those sit-up stretchers because I almost died. I don't remember that, but I do remember the day I got hit by a car.
I was playing by myself in the street and found a dime. I was so excited; it was all silver and shiny. I immediately wanted to go to the store but the problem was that I knew I had to cross Riverdale Avenue to get there, and that was a pretty major trip for a kid my age.
But after a few seconds, I summoned up my courage and with a little burst of speed, made it across and got to buy what I wanted: a lollipop and a superball. You know those balls that bounce all crazy and go in different directions? Yeah! I'm the man ...
It was on the way back that I caught it. The impact was so hard, I got knocked halfway up the street, all the way under a parked car. But for some reason, even though I was badly hurt, I didn't feel nothing. All I was thinking about was how my mother was going to whip my ass because I wasn't supposed to be outside.
When I tried to get up, this white lady with a clipboard was standing over me; she must have been checking parking meters or something.
"Stay down! Stay down!" she kept yelling.
Then other people walked by and they started screaming. I can imagine how folks must have felt to see a little boy pushed under a car like that, though. Everyone crowded around and then somebody gave me a jacket to put under my head and I just lay on the street until the ambulance came.
Luckily, I didn't break anything, so I got better in a few weeks, but what hurt the most was when I found out later that I could have gotten some money from the accident. See, not only had the driver run a red light, but he was also drunk. A month after the accident an insurance company man had come to my house talking about a settlement and my mother turned down ten thousand dollars!
"Thank you, but we don't need your money, sir," my mother told him. "My family is Jehovah's Witness and our faith teaches us to be self-sufficient."
Huh? That was the loot that was supposed to be mine when I got older, the money I could have been straight with! Half of the kids in the ghetto get a little bit of money when they reach a certain age for something that happened to them when they were younger. Why not me? And if the insurance company was offering ten thousand dollars, my mother could have held out and got a lot more, too. Hitting a child, drunk driving, and running a red light? I didn't understand why Jehovah's Witness would have wanted to mess with my money ...E.A.R.L.. Copyright © by Elizabeth DMX. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.