On this day, May 19, in hip-hop history...

Def Jam Recordings
Def Jam Recordings

1998: Gruff, brash and hard-hitting, New York rapper DMX made his major label debut with his 1998 album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, on May 19. The album took two years to put together and was released under Ruff Ryders and Def Jam Recordings.

The 19-track LP took hip-hop by storm with DMX's menacing lyrical delivery and production from Irv Gotti, Swizz Beatz and Dame Grease. This was part of the world's first introduction to the production prowess of Swizz as well and Def Jam's return to hardcore rap. Like a dog, It's as if the Dark Man was biting his words through the booth.

The album spawned four of X's signature singles: "Get at Me Dog," "Stop Being Greedy," "How's It Goin' Down" featuring Faith Evans and "Ruff Ryders Anthem." Thanks to heavy radio promotion, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 251,000 copies in its first week.

Many X fans hail It's Dark and Hell Is Hot as a hip-hop classic and argue that it's X's best album.

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