...And Then There Was X


Ruff Ryders / Def Jam Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Admission: I am definitely out of touch with the world of rap music. I used to be pretty well schooled in it - at least for a white guy, anyway - when I did reviews for my college's newspaper. I learned the joys of groups like Da Youngstas, N.W.A and Run-DMC; I also got to hear lesser-known artists like Overweight Pooch, JCD & The Dawg Lb. and Ron C.

But once I graduated and entered the real world, I had to sever my ties to the labels I worked with - and I continually fell behind with the new crop of artists that came along. Granted, over the years I've become a fan of artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg (sorry, Snoop, that's how I'll always know you as), Eminem and Tupac Shakur.

Now, after listening to DMX's third release ...And Then There Was X, I can say that there's an excellent chance I'll be going to pick up his other discs real soon. SOunding like a man caught between the desire to be respectable and the harsh reality of street life, DMX impresses on this disc and shows that gangsta rap is by no means dead.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two things one immediately notices about DMX. First, he dares to sing on the choruses to his raps. While he might not have the greatest singing voice (yeah, like I should talk), you have to admire him for taking that kind of a risk with his art. Sure, you hear more rappers doing it these days, but somehow I think it enhances DMX's work.

Second, while he might sing about capping people, he definitely shows a spiritual side on "Prayer III," a song I challenge all critics of rap music and rap artists to listen to. Actually, it's not a song, but a spoken-word delivery that shows the conflict between DMX the artist and Earl Simmons the man. What he says in this two-minute delivery is powerful, and DMX is to be commended for including such a non-commercial work on this album.

If you want to talk about the actual rap work being impressive, you don't have to go farther than "One More Road To Cross" or "The Professional," the first two full-length rap tracks on ...And Then There Was X. DMX proves himself to be a master at his craft as well as a damn good songwriter on these - even if you don't agree with the message some of the songs portray.

If there's any negative to this album, it's that DMX isn't able to keep such a level of excellence going throughout ...And Then There Was X. Maybe it's because I need to spend a little more time with this disc, but tracks like "Comin' For Ya," "Angel" and "Good Girls, Bad Guys" all tended to blend in with each other, though they were by no means disappointments.

While gangsta rap seemed to go stale after the death of Shakur in 1996, DMX proves that the genre is still alive and, in the right hands, can still sound exciting. Tracks like "Here We Go Again," "Fame" and "Make A Move" all prove that DMX could well be the leader in this genre right now.

Granted, this album definitely isn't for the kiddies, but ...And Then There Was X makes sure that the rap genre is still interesting and exciting to listen to. Even if you're like I am and this is the first DMX album you've heard, something tells me it won't be the last.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ruff Ryders / Def Jam Records, and is used for informational purposes only.