Written Before Listen
DMX was an American rapper hailing from Yonkers, NY. He tragically passed away to a drug overdose on April 9, 2021. If you remember (or not), I did a review of his seminal debut, “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot”. I did not give it score because I don’t necessarily love it but I did want to show respect to his music. Since I am ready to score this album, I would’ve given that album a 7/10. Now, Swizz Beats and many more curated a new posthumous DMX release that I will get right into.
The production isn’t the 808 heavy trap production as the majority of the production is production that you’re used to see DMX on. The main producer on the album is a producer who has produced multiple DMX hits in the past…Swizz Beats. He is also the executive producer of this album, which means that he’s the person who man-handled the album post X’s death. There are some amazing beats but there are also beats like “Hold Me Down” and “Skyscrapers” where the beats are nearly unlistenable. On the other hand, a beat like “Hood Blues” is beyond fire. With that being said, the beats on this album are a mixed bag.
Being a posthumous album, the album would not exist without features. Every track here with the exception of the skits have a feature in some way, shape or form. Luckily, the feature list is stacked with JAY-Z, Nas, Griselda, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg and more taking part in this album. The first track “That’s My Dog” features 3 heavyweight verses from the LOX boys and a solid DMX verse to finish it. It’s a very similar situation with “Hood Blues” but instead of The LOX, it’s Griselda doing their Griselda thing. “Bath Salts” gets a legendary collaboration between X, JAY and Nas as each rapper bring a hard verse on here. Unfortunately, not all features hit as Moneybagg Yo’s feature isn’t that great on “Money Money Money”. That’s just rapper wise too because nearly every singer on this album rather underperform or flop miserably. Especially Usher and Bono as they ruin two emotional and possibly tear-jerking DMX songs. My thoughts on the features are pretty similar to the production. Some features came out insanely strong and some came out insanely weak.
In the early days of DMX, We would get a variety of tracks on an album of his. There would be some anthems, some emotional songs, songs for the street, dark songs, love songs, storytelling songs and posse cuts. The same thing applies on this album. I guess the first 3 or 4 tracks would be considered the anthems, “Hold me Down”, “Walking In The Rain” and “Letter To My Son” would be the emotional songs, “Take Control” would be the love song and of course “Hood Blues” is the song for the streets. As the anthems go, the first two are personal favorites of mine when it comes to this LP. The following two are not that good as “Dog’s Out” came and went, and I already made my point on “Money Money Money”. “Walking In The Rain” would probably be my favorite emotional song but “Hold Me Down” and “Letter To My Son” fall miserably short as everybody but X does a terrible job complimenting his song. When it comes to “Take Control”, it’s kind of uncomfortable hearing two 50 year olds rapping this vulgar on record. My favorite is easily the song for the streets as “Hood Blues” has a hard beat, great features and good DMX verse. With that being said, my stance on the variety comes off just like the production and features. A mixed bag.
Struggles For A Posthumous Album
As you can see, I’m not big on the album. I will give DMX a pass due to the fact that he wasn’t able to be at the mastering sessions. I think Swizz Beats tried the best he could to see X’s vision but it doesn’t come off as artistically correct. I feel like X’s vision might not be the main reliance at this point. Not all posthumous albums are bad as “The Big Picture” and “Circles” are some great albums that came out post-death. Circles was great because Jon Brion really went with the emotion of the song instead of thinking of Mac. Big L only needed good beats to rap over and that’s exactly what he got. With DMX, I think if they dumbed down the vocal features and put some other producers on the album, it would turn out better than it did.
I already mentioned a majority of them, but I will describe them a little more. The first two tracks are hard as hell as The LOX, Nas, JAY-Z and DMX all deliver in the span of those two tracks. “Hood Blues” is without a doubt my favorite and “Walking In The Rain” is a contender as well. With the exception of those couple of tracks, this is your usual incomplete posthumous album
It’s unfortunate…Not just the outcome of the album, but the death of DMX. He was a musician that impacted many and will still remain to. Let’s make sure we remember him from his earlier releases and not this incomplete record. Earl Simmons, may you Rest In Peace.