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It’s been a hell of a career for New York’s DMX, only three albums thus far released and the man has already clocked up around fifteen million in worldwide sales. Although being something of an unknown entity in the UK, Dark Man’s forth release, ‘The Great Depression’, is arguably the most anticipated hip-hop record of the year 2001 and in no uncertain terms does it fail to deliver.
Sounding as irrepressibly furious as always, this is DMX on the top of his game. The man known to his mother as Earl maintains the groovy feel of earlier efforts but the diversity of a Dark Man release has been improved considerably, entering previously unknown territories. The world of rap-rock is visited on ‘Bloodline Anthem’ with a driving distorted guitar-line proving to be the perfect soundtrack to the always forefront X rhymes and the closest the man will ever come to a rap-ballad comes courtesy of the Faith Hill assisted ‘I Miss You’. The latter is a tune about DMX’s dead grandma and, while the lyrics are astoundingly moving, the man can’t help but still sound like he’s willing to rip your head off at any given opportunity. The jazzy approach used on ‘When I’m Nothing’ is questionable but when blazing out rhymes to the fuzzed up bass in ‘I’m a Bang’, the X man is nothing short of lethal.
While being a superb MC and having grooves in abundance, it’s this pounding aggression that makes X such an irresistible proposition. ‘We Right Here’ and first single ‘Who We Be’ epitomise this, particularly the latter which sounds like the hip-hop equivalent of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, such is the intense power of the rhythms being blasted at you. If a complaint is to be made, it’s that the album culminates with a whimper rather than it’s deserved bang, languidly dipping in quality and the usual inventiveness of X.
While DMX will remain as popular as ever in the States and certainly will not let down his devoted UK fan base, the mainstream does not beckon for D, in Britain at least. It’s just too much of an ugly onslaught for the average fourteen year old ‘Real Slim Shady’ Eminem fan but, that said, fans of the man Mathers’ more aggressive material could well be attracted to the constantly pummeling ride that is a DMX record. ‘The Great Depression’ breezes through the notion that follow-up albums can be difficult, being at least on par with predecessor ‘…And Then There Was X’, a feat definitely not to be sniffed at. The most ferocious and impressive hip-hop release this year, bar none.
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