DMX, the US rapper best known for his taunting song “Party Up (Up in Here),” faces prison time after he pleaded guilty Thursday to evading $1.7 million in tax payments.
Prosecutors said the 46-year-old rapper and actor avoided taxes by living virtually only on cash, without maintaining a bank account or filing required returns to the Internal Revenue Service.
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, admitted guilt before a federal judge in New York and agreed to pay back taxes, prosecutors said. He will be sentenced on March 29 and faces up to five years in prison.
The rapper could have been hit with up to 40 years in prison if he had been tried and convicted on all counts.
“No matter who you are or whatever fame you may have achieved, the law applies equally to all, and no one is exempt from the shared obligation to pay our taxes,” Joon Kim, the acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, said in a statement.
With his deep voice and dark, often violent lyrics, DMX became a major star in hip-hop in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He has faced frequent legal problems on charges that include animal cruelty, drug possession and failure to pay child support.
His 2000 song “Party Up (Up in Here),” in which DMX belittles other rappers and which is accompanied by a video that dramatizes a bank robbery, has become his most identifiable work and frequently appears in movies, most recently the remake of “Ghostbusters.”
Prosecutors said DMX failed to pay $1.7 million in tax liabilities between 2002 and 2005.
They alleged that he earned another $2.3 million between 2010 and 2015 but again did not pay taxes, and even threatened to leave his position on the celebrity reality television series “Couples Therapy” when the payroll department deducted taxes from his checks.
The New York Post reported that DMX initially hedged when pleading guilty, telling the court he had put others in charge of his finances, before the judge insisted that he clearly acknowledge his tax obligations.