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Rapper DMX pleads not guilty to tax fraud, facing allegations he owes $1.7 million to the IRS

Rapper DMX has been charged with 14 counts of tax evasion and faces up to 44 years in federal prison. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Live Nation)
Rapper DMX has been charged with 14 counts of tax evasion and faces up to 44 years in federal prison. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Live Nation)

Hip-hop icon DMX's own lyrics may have caught up with him Thursday when he was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion. 

The rapper, 46, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in New York to 14 charges related to tax fraud. He was to be released after posting $500,000 bond. 

"It's allowed me to not be scared of the situation and face it head-on, you know what I'm saying?" the multi-platinum hip-hop artist, whose real name is Earl Simmons, told reporters outside the courthouse. "My life is in God's hands."

In 2003, DMX penned the second verse of his chart-topping single, "X Gon' Give It to Ya," with a gripe about those who tried to bum off his success. 

"Every time I turn around, cats got they hands out wanting something from me," he rapped. "I ain't got it, so you can't get it."

The track's abidingly catchy lyrics ostensibly referred to X's scrappy ascendance to rap stardom. Still, a pair of federal prosecutors from New York think they make for a pretty ironic double entendre: While DMX raked in millions from the song's success, he neglected to give any of the money to the IRS, they said in a 14-count tax fraud indictment. 

"X Gon' Give It to Ya" was specifically called out by Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for New York who will preside over the case, in a statement about the indictment. 

Per Kim, the rapper "went out of his way" to evade his tax obligations and attempted to conceal hefty portions of his income through an elaborate (and enduring — he's supposedly been at it for years) smoke-and-mirrors act that included avoiding personal bank accounts, opening accounts under false identities and paying for personal expenses exclusively in cash. 

DMX managed to skirt some $1.7 million in federal tax obligations, the prosecution said.

In addition to tax evasion, he faces charges of failing to file a tax return and corruptly trying to obstruct and impede the due administration of IRS laws.

“Celebrity rapper or not, all Americans must pay their taxes,” Kim said in the statement. "Together, with our partners at the IRS, we will pursue those who deliberately and criminally evade this basic obligation of citizenship."

Though this isn't DMX's first confrontation with the law, it is a potentially formidable one. If found guilty, he could face up to 44 years in federal prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Updated, 3:23 p.m.: This article was updated with a quote from DMX as well as plea and bond information. 

This story was first published at 11:22 a.m.

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