With DMX”s long-awaited fourth release comes much speculation concerning his burning fire. Many have dismissed him as falling off the high horse that led him to be the only artist ever to top the Billboard charts with two albums in the same year. The cinematic masterpiece “Exit Wounds,” which hosted his first starring role, didn”t fare well at the box office rumor has it that he is on the fritz with his Ruff Ryder click, and this new release has been repeatedly delayed and renamed more times than Ol” Dirty Bastard.

Paul Wong
Blitzstein (David Wolber), Eva (Carla Milarch) and Welles (Travis Reiff) contemplate a whole new world.<br><br>Courtesy of Daniel C. Walker/Performance Network

Interestingly enough, despite its title, this is unarguably his most lighthearted album to date. Earl Simmons makes it a point to get to his audience on a more personal level this time around. “I Miss You” is an ode to X”s deceased family members, featuring Faith Evans in a near obligatory R&ampB hook. “When I”m Nothing” addresses the fake ones who won”t have anything to do with X if he ever falls off the song samples Stephanie Mills” hit “Whatcha Gonna Do,” and even features the songstress herself on the hook. The track is a prime example of a production style very different from the old DMX.

Production on the album is generally pretty weak much of the album is produced by Dame Grease, who many would argue was a main factor in the lackluster quality of his 1999 album And Then There Was X. P. Killer Tracks lends his usual ominous style to the album, producing the menacing “Damien III” but falling short overall. Swizz Beats, who had much credit due for X”s initial success with his trademark style, proves that he has drastically fallen off with only two disappointing tracks.

X can never be accused of having the most introspective lyrics, but his rough, grimy voice and bleak tales could be considered groundbreaking and have been the target of much imitation (see: Ja Rule) His famous sacrilege returns on this album, with the obligatory end-of-the-album combo of a prayer followed by a song that asks for spiritual answers. There remains the ardor combined with the violence in his lyrics that never changed much through the course of his three-year-long career.

If fans were not feeling his last album, then chances are they will not appreciate this one at all. He has made a large departure from that angry, almost excessive character that we came to love. Perhaps this is just a transition in life for him unfortunately, most music fans don”t care much for change, and this is why so many acts fall into obscurity after their so-called “sophomore slumps.” He will push many units based on his loyal fan base alone, but we may be seeing a happier, friendlier DMX from now on, an almost oxymoronic concept that likely won”t garner much support.

Grade: C+

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