On this day, Dec. 22, in hip-hop history...

1998: Twenty years ago today, Gravel-voiced MC DMX decided to take things to the next level when it came time to drop his sophomore album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.

Released on Dec. 22, 1998, X's second album came just seven months after his debut, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, proving he had every intention of conquering the rap game in the shortest span of time possible.

The Ruff Ryders-released LP featured all the usual suspects — Swizz Beatz, Irv Gotti and P. Killer Trackz — on production, and features from fellow New York heavyweights like Jay-Z and The Lox. X even tapped shock rocker Marilyn Manson for a collab on the song "The Omen (Damien II)." The 16-track album spawned singles like "Slippin" and "No Love 4 Me."

Flesh of My Flesh debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making X the second rap artist ever to have two albums debut at No. 1 within the same year, a feat first reached by Tupac. X had achieved his goal of reigning rap king of 1998.

The album's iconic cover art that depicted Dark Man X standing in a pool of blood is something that vividly stands out in the minds of 90s rap fans. Jonathan Mannion, one of hip-hop’s most respected photographers, is the one who captured the shot. XXL talked to Mannion about the experience of convincing X back in 2013. “I had 60 gallons of blood in a bathtub and I was like, ‘Now my challenge is getting DMX in this blood and what am I gonna do to get him in there," explained the famed photog. “[X] was like, ‘Aw man dawg, I’m not going to get in it because man, I don’t know if it’s right. I’ve got these new pants on.’ I was like, dawg, are you really going to use the pants excuse to not get in there? I was like, ‘Here, why don’t you just wear my pants?’ and I dropped my pants in front of a studio of 20 people. Everybody’s looking at me like I’m totally insane, but it showed how much I believed in my work, and he couldn’t deny it…so he got in.”

Now, two decades to the day later, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood is a late 1990s classic that serves as a benchmark in X's illustrious rap career.

Ruff Ryders/Def Jam

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