Cover Story | Recently Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have been giving a lot of shine to music artists whose careers deserve to be revisited by those of us who lived during their greatness as well as a generation that came a decade or two too late to experience their greatness first-hand. Many of these artists are a little past their prime, but in their day were killing everything they laid their vocals to. I’ve tried to catch as many of the Verzuz battles as I could, but with my schedule being the way it is (I really don’t be doing nothing) I have only seen three. And out of those three, the only one that I was 100% there for mentally was DMX vs. Snoop. Both are artists from the 90’s with a ton of hits and success. I grew up playing their cassettes, then their CDs and currently have them both on playlists. But I won’t lie to you… the MC that made this a must-watch for me was DMX.
Growing up I was a huge fan of DMX. My introduction to him was likely on LL Cool J’s “4, 3, 2, 1” record along with Redman, Canibus. Although I’m not sure I ever got all the lyrics to the song, I know it took me watching the video and listening to it on the radio several times to catch the gist of what he was saying and that was enough. There was something cool about this guy with an unnaturally raspy voice barking every few bars that resonated with me.
When It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot was released in ’98, I was at the record store (probably F.Y.E.) bright and early buying a copy. From the intro through “Niggaz Done Started Something” I had bought into what he was selling me. I thought Dark Man X was the toughest guy from some place (Yonkers) in New York I had never heard of and that he rapped better than everybody (EVERYBODY). Although he was known as a “hardcore” rapper at the time, his more introspective songs, like “Let M Fly” and “I Can Feel It”, were some of my favorites from the album. I could recite every word to every song, adlib and skit from his debut (I was at a weird stage age where I would go to computer class and look up artists and print out song lyrics).
“It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell over 5 million copies. Although it was led by the street anthem “Ruff Ryders Anthem”, “Get at Me Dog” had already started to gain traction with rap enthusiasts months before the album was set to appear in stores. DMX went on to sell four more platinum and multiplatinum records (he has released 8 albums total) and star in everything, including video games and tv shows in addition to a multitude of movies with everyone from Nas to Steven Seagal. Not a bad résumé for a guy known for barking like a pitbull through the majority of his records.
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