DMX

Year of the Dog...Again

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DMX released his sixth album three weeks after the first episode of his BET reality program, DMX: Soul of a Man. If the first five albums and the string of well-publicized run-ins with the law didn't make it obvious that the man is a live wire of nerves and predictable unpredictability, the program exacerbated his larger-than-life persona while also making him seem more human. As for Year of the Dog...Again? It's more of the same old, same old: a lot of anger, torment, and put-downs over rallying and drama-filled productions from Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease, Scott Storch, and a handful of others. The status quo from track to track is as fatiguing here as it was on The Great Depression and, as usual, the targets of DMX's barbs and the specifics of his troubles are often vague -- it's possible he assumes the listener either tracks his every breath or will relate if the lyrics are open-ended, but it's even more likely that he's venting in an uncalculated way. The low point of the album is "Baby Motha," where he complains about being stuck with a woman (because they had a kid together) he doesn't like and then rails against the same woman (?) who has the audacity to split (with their kid) when things get tough -- so, regardless of what happens, he is screwed, and he even gets Janyce to sing one of the most self-flagellating hooks imaginable. With little to differentiate it from his past work, and with his life seeming more like an unbreakable cycle than a journey, the album will be of lasting value only to those who can't get enough of the MC's unflinching outrageousness. That said, it's hard to disregard him completely when he comes up with compelling tracks like "Lord Give Me a Sign" and remains powerful enough to drown out Swizz Beatz's interjections on juiced tracks like "We in Here" and "Come Thru (Move)."

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