"Ruff Ryders!!!!!" "Where my dogs at??!!!" Those are two familiar quotes from one Mr. Earl Simmons, better known to the world as DMX. This man took the hip hop world by storm in 1998, bringing a "hard edge" back to the game that had been sorely missing for quite some time at that point (and it's missing today too). Aggressive yet firm. Honest and introspective (when he wants to be). Charismatic and rugged. He had his traits, and those traits (even the ones I didn't mention) have always been reflected in his music.
A hell of a debut right here, one of the best albums of 1998. The intro on this album is one of the best ever, and it completely sets the tone for the rest of the album. X essentially had something for everyone on this album, whether it was hard, slamming tracks to make you rowdy ("Get At Me Dog" & "Stop Being Greedy"), the joint for the ladies ("How's It Goin Down"), storytelling (the apply titled "Crime Story"), introspective ("The Convo"). You got it all with this album. This album also has the strongest nostalgic vibe with me as far as his albums go.
Rating- 5 stars
5 favorite songs- Get At Me Dog, Stop Being Greedy, N***** Done Started Something, Look Thru My Eyes, & Let Me Fly
Rating- 4.5 stars
5 favorite songs- No Love For Me, Heat, Ready To Meet Him, Blackout, & Bring Your Whole Crew
I remember buying this album the week after it came out, and although I liked it a lot at the time, time has not been kind to this album (and this is his most successful album from a sales standpoint), and "Party Up", one of his most successful singles, has not aged well in my opinion. He changed things up a little on this album, and while it was commercially successful, critically not so much so. Decent, but nothing special.
Rating- probably 3.5 stars, which may be generous
5 favorite songs- What's My Name, One More Road To Cross, Angel, The Professional, & D-X-L (Hard White)
I copped this one when it was first released, and this one is 3rd place when it comes to strong nostalgic vibes (behind the first and second albums of course). I remember when he was on Rap City promoting this album. Big Tigger asked him which of his previous albums does "Great Depression" remind him of, and X pointed to his debut, and I kind of shook my head and laughed at that assertion, because it's NOWHERE NEAR anything like "It's Dark And Hell Is Hot", and X should've known that (lol). Whenever this album was mentioned at the time, I always heard "you damn right it's depressing". While I personally wouldn't go that far, it's a decent album and I like it a little more than "And Then There Was X", as X was more introspective this time around. It was also clear his career was on a downswing beginning with this album.
Rating- 3-3.5 stars
5 favorite songs- A Minute For Your Son, Who We Be, We Right Here, When I'm Nothing, & School Street
Hip hop had drastically changed between this release and his previous one. It also took me a minute before it grew on me, because when I first listened to it I was not impressed. I liked it more on the second listen. It was a small return to form, but his glory days were long behind him at this point.
Rating- 4 stars
5 favorite songs- Where The Hood At, Shot Down, Dogs Out, X Gon Give It To Ya, & Thank You
Well, this may very well be X's worst album, although it does have a few bangers. I haven't played it in quite some time and it *may be* due for a revisit, but not any time soon, lol.
Rating- 2.5-3 stars
Favorite songs- Lord Give Me A Sign, We In Here, and I Run S***
And with the inclusion of this cover of his new album, which was released yesterday. I feel it's going to be more of the same, and looking at how hip hop is now, I don't think many people are even checking for this, and that includes fans of his previous works. You definitely can't deny the impact he had on hip hop during his time on top. Some of his songs still receive radio play today, which is a good thing. He brought a certain energy to hip hop in 1998 that we'll probably never see again, and with that being said, "where my dogs AT??!!!"
UPDATE (as of 9/11/12):