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And Then There Was X

Release Date: 12.21.99
Record label: UNI / Def Jam
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.


Time to Put This Dog to Sleep
by: matt halverson

Somebody done left the kennel door open, and the dog is loose.

After a year-long hiatus, DMX is back to spit more of the gritty rhymes that hip-hop listeners have become accustomed to hearing after his debut it's Dark and Hell is Hot. However, with a style that has changed little since his most recent Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, the latest offering from the Dark Man X, …And Then There Was X, fails to lend any new insight into the rapper's dark psyche.

In the turbulent world of rap it's crucial to keep up with the latest trend. From the evolution of West Coast gangsta rap to the New Orleans bounce of Master P's No Limit Army, MCs have had to adapt. Hell, even Q-Tip, formerly of the mellow, jazz-influenced A Tribe Called Quest, has adopted the jiggy stylings of Puff Daddy for his first solo effort, albeit much to the chagrin of the rest of the hip-hop community.

Don't expect to see DMX in a shiny silver suit primping for the camera in a Hype Williams-esque video any time soon. Playing the roughneck street mercenary to Jay-Z's flashy, Cristal-drinking party man, DMX is comfortable staying at ground-zero in the ghetto war zone by spouting verses of contempt for his enemies and couplets of impending doom for anyone who crosses him. However, no one can ever call him a killer without a conscience.

On "The Professional," the rapper growls through the dozens of ways he can send you to an early grave, but is quick to mention that he doesn't "like to involve women and children." The moral tug-of-war he seems to be constantly waging with himself is hardly enough to reconcile the bloody thoughts he's unafraid to share with us. Songs of disappointment in the next generation of street hustlers ("Here We Go Again") and blatant disrespect for women ("What These Bitches Want") show X has respect for few, and trusts even less. The latter of the two quickly dissolves into a laundry list of women who have asked for too much or given too little and consequently stoked his ire.

"What's My Name?" is the obligatory territory-staking track that appears on all too many hip-hop albums today. DMX is the name and those who have yet to learn it best fear the wrath of rapper.

Although he sounds as if he has begun to gargle even more class and shrapnel in order to attain the gritty voice he's come to be famous for, claims like "I'm not a nice person" come off as trite and near comical.

The most laughable track on the album, however, is "Prayer III," a sequel of sorts to the prayers on his previous two releases. Although he begs for forgiveness and accepts his shortcomings as a human sent to do the biddings of Jesus, he drowns in his own hypocrisy. Isn't this the same man who only six tracks before threatened to make your grandma your only surviving family member on "What's My Name"?

Although his rhymes are not without some bite, their teeth have dulled from overuse since it's Dark... and Flesh... . Whereas before they had the strength to pierce deep and make you fear DMX, now their repetitiveness simply tears and grates on the listener's ear in.

The Dog has failed to climb up the evolutionary ladder much since his last album, and to use a line from "Here We Go Again," it's the "same old shit dog, just a different day." 14-Mar-2001 12:00 AM