What do you say about a brotha who has the name of a dog tattoed on his back, close to three million records sold of a debut album, and the hottest sound and image on the street? Youd call that man DMX. One Love Boomer the tat reads, shoulder to shoulder, Its Dark And Hell Is Hot is the first effort still in Billboards top twenty, and kids around the world are growling, barking, rhyming in short bursts of rough ghetto energy, anything to imitate an artist they would have no problem calling hero.
And now he has a new album. For an unprepared public, this game started less than a year ago when a deep-throated, bandana-wearing brotha started spittin hot shit on cuts like LL Cool Js 4,3,2,1 and Mic Geronimos Usual Suspects. Then came two unforgettable verses: the first on Mases 24 Hrs. To Live; the second on The Loxs anthem Money, Power, Respect, a sixteen bar ball of fire that DMX said he wrote a couple of years ago. It was the perfect artistic set-up for a game that was coming out of Puff Daddys self-proclaimed Hammer era into a harder, more broken-bottle, strife laden world where heart, credibility, strength, and attitude meant just as much as brightest suit or hottest girl. Heads were ready for tales of real life, stories of struggle and survival, pain and the ability to get by, the kind of urban tales DMX had always thrived at. I think society is finally ready to deal with reality, DMX said last February, a few days before his first album was to drop, so for that reason I aint got no choice but to blow! And blow up he did. Worldwide. Get At Me Dog was the song that did it, a spit-fire piece of uncompromising aggression that became the universal anthem of hood life, months before labelmate Jay Z called anybodys life hard knock.
Take one listen to the intro, My Niggas, the first of ten tracks the young beat phenomenon called Swizz will produce, and youll get an early feeling, that for DMX, this rap shit aint no game. Just cause I love my niggas / I shed blood for my niggas! Two minutes later youll hear some horrified strings and the wail of a brotha ready to bring it on. Bring Your Whole Crew will provide the first memorable lines of a 70+ minute album. I got blood on my hands and theres no remorse / I got blood on my dick cause I fucked a corpse, X spits while giving you a drive-by tour of the mind of one of the most energized and manic artists this game has ever seen. Aint No Way, then finds the Dark Man taking a page out of the book of the great B.I.G., and ghetto-harmonizing on a hook laced with some of Swizzs robotic horns. I love it, I love it, he says on the fade-out, right before the Lox kill it on the Yonkers posse cut We Dont Give A Fuck.
His real name is Earl Simmons, and as a child he spent his days and nights alone, wandering the streets of the School Street Projects of Yonkers, NY by himself. Despite having five sisters, Earl says he had a very lonely childhood, a painful reality that led to an inner strength, a strong introspective side, and an undying bond for dogs. Real dogs. His two pit bulls (Bandit and Bobbi) go with him everywhere including the recording studio and his Boomer tattoo is a dedication to his best dog-friend that was run-over by a car. If you meet DMX, and listen to his rhymes, you hear the same person. He talks as he rhymes, with the same rhythm, cadence, and strength of feeling that has made him so captivating for thousands of fans and friends across the globe. You can hear Earl on the mellowed-out Slippin. Laid over a melodic Grover Washington, Jr. sample, Slippin is the spoken thought of a man who has contemplated a life with little opportunity, a life with more than one rock-bottom, but a life thats nothing but his own. And dont get it twisted, there will be no excuses. To live is to suffer, but to survive, well, thats to find meaning in the suffering.
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