I don't know why DMX never sparked my interest before. From 98 to 03 the New York rapper killed it with a string of five records debuting at number one, making him the fifth highest selling Hip Hop artist of all time, of course commercial success doesn't equate to taste. Once again it was youtube suggesting a performance of his at Woodstock 99 that drew me in. Its one of my favorite festivals and I had no idea he performed there. I was blown away by his stage persona, owning every word, flowing and spitting with that wild hype he has on the track. It might be one of the best rap performance out there, rocking a crowd of four hundred thousand without a backup crew, just him and his DJ. I wanted to start at the beginning but a while into this record I realized it was the second of the two he dropped in 98.
"Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood" is a typical industry record of the era, a loaded compact disc with tracks and skits filling the seventy minutes without an over arching concept. Swizz Beats, who made his name with DMX, handles a lot of the production with tight programed percussion and MIDI instruments arrangements. They leave a lot of space for X to flow, just a couple of additional strings and keys looping short melodies over tight thumping bass lines and grooving drum patterns. Its not to crowded, yet packs a punch in the better tracks.
DMX strikes me as a logic step forward from the likes of Tupac in terms of mainstream appeal. He has that crisp, fluid, coherent delivery making for easy following. His tone a little deeper, lyrics nastier and of course brimming with anger and energy that spills out in his legendary wild barks and "what?" background shouts. He even growls like a dog too, its a remarkable, confident burst of energy that sparks up the tracks. With a distinct style X doesn't drop the smartest set of rhymes but with a reasonable vocabulary he has the craft to story tell and walk you through his thoughts, an internal dialog or scenario like a pro. His style elevates on tracks like "Slipin'" where gang life and violence take a backseat to emotions and introspection.
There's a fair bit of mediocrity in the track listing, a few features mix things up, The LOX sound great on these tracks and Marilyn Manson gives a chorus to the dark and gloomy "The Omen". On occasions things gel better and produce banging tracks like the opening "Bring Your Whole Crew", thanks to a wicked hook from "P. Killer". X's personality is loud, pronounced and in your face, he spits like fire and in fairness its a big draw for this record which he carry's a long way. I don't expect this one to hold up as I get used to his discography however it has been a really fun introduction to one of Hip Hops biggest names.
Favorite Tracks: Bring Your Whole Crew, Keep Your Shit The Hardest, Slippin', Flesh Of My Flesh Blood Of My Blood