DMX has returned. Correction - the original DMX is back, and better than ever. His new creation, The Great Depression rivals his first album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, and makes up for the disappointment of his second and third albums, Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood, and ... And then there was X.
Born Earl Simmons in Yonkers, NY, X has led a life that would cause the hardest rappers to flinch. In and out of foster homes as a kid, followed by jail as an adult, DMX draws upon his troubled life for musical inspiration. This raw passion shows in every song, whether a tale full of murder and malice or one of his signature prayers. The last time the rap industry witnessed such honesty was with the late Tupac Shakur. The charm of Tupac and DMX lie in their ability to make you feel their pain and cry along with them.
The Great Depression will satisfy every rap fan that is a little tired of hearing about platinum and girls shakin’ their derriČres. The simple, yet powerful “Who We Be” examines life on the streets and the emotions that goes along with it. Nothing more than basic beat overlaid with a primitive rhyme, this song invokes deep thinking on the highest level.
Die-hard fans will be happy to hear “Damien III,” a saga that has been continued from previous albums. It all started with “Damien” on It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, where X befriends the devil’s advocate in hopes of improving his life. The story continues on Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood in “The Omen”, featuring Marilyn Manson. Filled with the usual eerie beats and melodies, X finally realizes the error of his decision and denounces the devil.
Continuing on with the good vs. evil theme, it wouldn’t be a DMX album without a dose of spirituality. “The Prayer IV” puts most preachers to shame as X gives his thanks and promises to better his life. DMX finishes off the album with a conversion with God that carries the gift of inspiration that transcends all religions.
Tracks like “Trina Moe” and “We Right Here” balance out the serious weight The Great Depression bears. They have a playfulness that listeners will appreciate while trying to digest the other songs. If there were any shortcomings to this album, “Bloodline Anthem” and “I’m a Bang” are them. The lyrics were up to par, yet for some reason X attempted to cross rock and rap. True, there have been some successful mixes of the two genres, but DMX fails to pull it off. Yet, you have to appreciate the courage it takes to introduce rock into one of the most hardcore rap albums of the year.
The Great Depression is an emotional roller coaster DMX fans will gladly ride. With his infamous gruff voice, DMX elicits anger, sadness, and reflection.