DMX Discovered This Movie Role While He Was In Prison

When DMX got into movies, all of them involved crime in some way. His first film, Belly, was about two friends who fall into drug gangs. The action movies Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave all dealt with gangs and corrupt cops. When DMX produced his first film, Never Die Alone, he said he discovered the book it was based on while in prison himself.

DMX with his arms wide open
DMX | Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

DMX gave a press conference in 2004 for Never Die Alone. The film is based on Donald Goines’ novel.

What did DMX do while he was in jail?

DMX has served multiple prison sentences for a variety of charges. By 2004, he’d already been out and revealed how he’d spent his time inside. DMX said he discovered Goines’ books in prison, so they inspired him to make the movie.

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“I was locked up for a term when I read the first book of his,” he said. “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.”

Never Die Alone starred DMX as King David, a drug kingpin who tries to redeem himself for a life of violence. That spoke to the actor.

DMX takes the stage in a white tank top
DMX | Johnny Nunez/WireImage

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“I had actual events and issues to draw from,” he said. “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 n***** for a minute, then f*ck around and get a conscience.”

Pursuing Donald Goines

The rapper/producer ultimately read Goines’ entire oeuvre. Goines lived from 1936 to 1974 and wrote 16 books, 12 under his own name and another four under pseudonym Al C. Clark. Never Die Alone was the first title whose movie rights became available. 

“I’ve read every one of Donald Goines’ books,” he said. “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.”

DMX raps into a mic
DMX | John Lamparski/FilmMagic

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When it came to Never Die Alone, King David was obviously the role for DMX. The film also starred David Arquette, Michael Ealy, Luenell, Clifton Powell and many more. Ernest Dickerson directed.

“Well, who else would I choose in that movie?” he said. “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.”

DMX had plans to adapt Goines’ Daddy Cool next, but those plans never came to fruition.