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DMX, Undisputed

For most rap veterans, there comes a point where the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” reigns true. To change after close to 15 years in the game is difficult, if not impossible, which seems to be the case for DMX. The passionate Yonkers rapper rose to the forefront of the game in a flash, releasing two classics in less than a year in 1998: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. With Undisputed, his first album in six years, X tries to recapture what once made him a top dog, though ultimately biting off a bit more than he can chew.

“Lookin Without Seein (Intro)” sets the pace for the majority of the content—other’s inability to adequately empathize with him. “Y’all don’t know what I be going through/Y’all don’t know what I’m about to do to you, ‘cause you lookin without seein,” X voices on the short track. The notion is redundantly reaffirmed throughout the LP, being the theme for the skip-worthy track “I Get Scared,” “Slippin’ Again” and “Y’all Don’t Really Know.” More than that, the Dark Man does not disclose what people “don’t know” about his experiences, choosing to stress the issue over and over without ever properly addressing it, “Slippin’ Again,” the strongest cut of the aforementioned, borders on the repercussions of fame and riches but never breaks it down the connection to him like he did on his 1998 banger “Slippin’,” the track he attempts to follow up.

On “Head Up” and “Frankenstein,” the Grand Champ tackles a pair of topics he is known for, his faith and inner demons, respectively. Both tracks awaken memories of X in his prime yet abruptly lay those nostalgic moments to rest due to moderate bars. Alternatively, DMX tries to address new a subject matter, though a common one amongst veterans, of not falling off. “If I see it, I’ma take it/And you better hope I don’t want it all/’Cause I’ll leave you naked/I ain’t never had to fake it/Dog come through with no gun/I show son, I’m scared of no one/And I don’t run/I tell niggas, ‘X is back’/And it ain’t where I’m at/it’s what I’m giving niggas, X’s back,” the Ruff Ryders head honcho spit on “What They Don’t Know,” one of the standouts of the album that finds DMX rhyming on a captivating Swizz Beatz instrumental like he used to.

X provides more bark than bite this go-around, as he often leaves listeners yearning for more lyrically while the selection of beats is open to discussion as many are up to snuff at best. Peaking so early in his career was a gift to his legacy but a curse to his longevity. As a result, fans understandably expect another “Party Up (Up In Here),” yet “I Don’t Dance” is simply not that, parallel to how “Sucka for Love” does not compare to “What These Bitches Want.” Undisputed exhibits little of X’s impressive illustration but renews the high level of passion and energy he excels at relaying to listeners. X has been staying out of trouble, making it to shows and has improved his raps since The Weigh In, a trend one can only wish continues. —Christopher Minaya (@CM_3)

  • youaintgotnoyeezy?

    i thought this would be at least xl

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwahn.denson Dwahn Denson

    X did not keep it street this is not the effort i would expect from a grimy mc like him better luck next time son !!!! one

  • Ruff Ryder

    to me it’s XL to XXL !!! an album of rhythm and poetry!! thx X for makin’ that year!!

  • Hurricane Taylor

    Best Album of the year DOg is Back…

  • brickcity

    Really? “He says Yall Don’t Really Know, and then doesn’t tell us what we don’t know”?!?!?! U guys suck

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwahn.denson Dwahn Denson

    Why didnt he just let swizz produce the entire disc he could ill afford for this joint to turn out as weak as it did im extremely dissappointed X i was looking for so much more !!!!

  • A.Slave

    sorry dude but this album is the best of the year so far,people need to learn how to listen to new albums for what they are and not what others are,3 skip tracks for me but the rest is GODLY dog

  • Amon raa

    Because with X i always have big expectations i say it s a good solid album not XXL but XL for sure, it is certainly album of the year in my eyes or better in my ears.

  • Paschal

    Good album

  • HeavyWeight812

    XXL’s reviewers are full of it!!! So quick to rubberstamp something out of GUNIT (that last group album was the worst crap ever and the sales were dismal) but when something comes out that REALLY deserves an XL at the least they use the same arguments about beat selection and that its just not what the artist used to put out…. In the words of H.O.V.A….. “want my old shit by my old alubm!”
    This album was def. a banger!

  • yea

    XXL are some haters

  • Bangs of Pitch Ryder

    I’ve listened to this album a few times from beginning to end and I’ll have to agree with most of the comments. This record deserves more than L. It’s refreshing that DMX stayed true to his signature style. Dudes that grew up listening to Dee wont be disappointed. Up the rating on this. Can’t believe you’d give DMX the same rating as 2 Chainz. SMH.

  • http://twitter.com/CharlieCRaps CHARLIEC✈

    Are you serious? This is when these hipster hip-hop bloggers who are probably part of the gay community, and never even where apart of the Rough Ryders movement.. L tho? ya’ll some retards. To make a comeback and still bring the same sounds as before… thats a real rap.

    • Eric Sun

      How are you part of the “Rough Ryders” movement if you can’t even spell it right? And I’m pretty sure gays were being “Rough Ryders” long before Dee & Wah formed that label, so stop hatin.

  • FUCK XXL

    Man FUCK XXL, you people can’t rate for shit