DMX World
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Four albums into this career, DMX begins to show signs of exhaustion on The Great Depression, where he sometimes seems to approach his songs as routinely as he would one of his films. The rapper-turned-actor has always been dramatic, perhaps never more so than on his impressive debut, where he embodied late-'90s inner-city machismo to a tee. He's just as dramatic here, though much less effective, exploring a number of sympathetic themes such as his grandmother's sad passing away ("I Miss You"), his thinning fan base ("When I'm Nothing"), his perennial adversaries ("I'ma Bang"), his conflicted relationship with God ("A Minute for Your Son"), and, as always, his partly imaginary legion of critics, rivals, and haters (pretty much every other song). Not much of this is new territory for DMX, who tends to repeat himself on every album, as if he'd said everything he's possible of saying on his explosive debut. While this repetition gets tiresome for those who've heard a few of his albums, it's not so unfavorable when it comes to trademark anthems like "Who We Be" and "We Right Here." Very much modeled after previous DMX rallying cries like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" and "What's My Name?," this pair of hard-hitting Black Key productions features DMX at his spirited best. Elsewhere, though, not even an impressive lineup of producers (Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease, Just Blaze, Bink, and P.K.) nor a few unusual ventures (an interpolation of Stephanie Mills' "What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" and the wounded emoting of "I Miss You") can liven the by-the-script sense of The Great Depression, the first omen of DMX's inevitable descent.
 
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