Twenty-three years after the release of his genre-altering debut album “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot,” DMX, on an episode of the podcast Drink Champs, spoke with exuberance, details of the then yet to be completed new album. Said DMX, “I was almost overwhelmed by how excited, not just excited but how many people wanted to be a part of this project. Swizz did it, he’s the magician.” Not known for extended features, X proudly ran down an all-star list of collaborators who were all slated to guest, including the likes of Alicia Keys, Bono, Lil Wayne, Snoop, Pop Smoke, the Lox and Griselda.
One song he was itching to get out was the duet with Usher. “Yo, you gotta hear that, it’s called “Letter to My Son.” When I first did it, it was just me and a piano, I never did a song with just one instrument. Then we got this dude, Brian King Joseph, from one of those talent shows (“America’s Got Talent”) to come in and play the violin…it came out crazy. It hits you!” Unfortunately, now every song on the album will hit you as this collection will be his swan song work. We as consumers and REAL fans of the DOG knew the day would come that we’d have to go down a slippery slope. His man Jadakiss once said in a verse, “You know dead rappers get better promotion.” Now this week, as fans around the world continue to celebrate the life of hip-hop icon DMX, his career-long producer and friend Swizz Beatz announced that the legendary rapper’s posthumous studio album of all new original material, “EXODUS,” has been set for release on May 28 via Def Jam Recordings.
Swizz Beatz, executive producer and producer of “EXODUS,” issued the following statement: “My brother X was one of the most pure and rare souls I’ve ever met. He lived his life dedicated to his family and music. Most of all, he was generous with his giving and loved his fans beyond measure. This album, X couldn’t wait for his fans all around the world to hear and show just how much he valued each and every single person that has supported him unconditionally.”
Swizz expounded in an interview on “Ebro in the Morning” saying, “It’s crazy because his lyrics mean so much more now. It’s almost like he was preparing for this the whole time, as we all should. That’s why we’re on earth, to prepare for our graduation. A lot of people don’t get it, but he knew it for a long time.
“The album is a masterpiece. It’s not a regular tone,” Swizz continued. “This is the first time me and X locked in for like 13 years, like officially. Before, a lot of the projects was like sending a beat here, sending a beat there. This is us like in the studio every day, like really, really zoned out and making magic. He put his time and effort…this is something different.”
Themes of redemption weave throughout “EXODUS,” the first Def Jam album by DMX in 18 years, since 2003’s “Grand Champ.” The new album shares its name with DMX’s son Exodus Simmons. The album artwork is by original photographer Jonathan Mannion, who captured some of the most iconic images of DMX throughout his career.
DMX continues to hold the unique distinction of being the only artist in history to enter both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip Hop charts with #1 debuts for his first five consecutive career albums, starting with his debut “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” (May 1998, with “Ruff Ryders Anthem”), then “Flesh of My Flesh,” “Blood of My Blood” (December 1998), “…And Then There Was X” (1999, with “Party Up (Up In Here)”), “The Great Depression” (2001, with “Who We Be”), and “Grand Champ” (2003, with his definitive anthem, “Where The Hood At?”).
As reported in Billboard, Yonkers, New York native DMX sold more than 74 million records worldwide in his lifetime and amassed in excess of 14x-platinum RIAA certifications in the U.S. alone. He was “one of the most memorable MCs of all time,” wrote journalist Smokey D. Fontaine, co-author of “E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX” (2003). “The only artist who has spent a career inspiring fans around the world to bark and rhyme in loud bursts of manic energy; only then to get them to read, rap, think and cry in private moments of honest thought and introspection. He was a man of faith who proudly and publicly depicted aspects of his life through his prayers. No one in hip hop has ever done it better. No one has meant more.”
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.