DMX will play murdered gangster in thriller. He starts shooting the ''Citizen Kane''-like drama this week

By Gary Susman
Updated February 13, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

DMX has a new movie, ”Cradle 2 the Grave,” coming out Feb. 28, but he’s not resting on his laurels. According to trade reports, a deal has come together for the rapper/actor to produce and star in ”Never Die Alone,” a thriller in which he’ll play a dying drug kingpin whose life is investigated in flashback, ”Citizen Kane”-style, by the young reporter who witnesses his murder. Shooting starts Thursday in Los Angeles, Variety reports.

Ernest Dickerson, who has directed a number of other rapper/actors (from Tupac Shakur in ”Juice” to Snoop Dogg in ”Bones”) will direct ”Never,” which costars David Arquette and ”Barbershop”’s Michael Ealy. It will mark the first film produced under DMX’s Bloodline banner.

”Never” is based on a 1974 novel by cult author Donald Goines, whose blaxploitation-era tales of violence in the ‘hood have been cited as an inspiration by numerous rappers. Goines’ ”Crime Partners” was made into a movie (”Crime Partners 2000”) starring Ice-T and Ja Rule that is at the center of the current federal drug-money probe of rap label Murder Inc. The film’s writer and co-producer, Kenneth ”Supreme” McGriff, served 10 years in prison on federal narcotics conspiracy charges, and federal investigators wonder if he’s laundering drug money through Murder Inc., which plans to distribute ”Crime Partners” on DVD. Lawyers for both McGriff and Murder Inc. chief Irv Gotti have denied any wrongdoing on the part of their clients.