DMX World
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Several have claimed the title, but in truth, DMX is the real Black Elvis--albeit, the circa 1973 model. In a genre often defined by its excesses, no one's more over the top than the barking mad MC whose every move–-from the primal screams that randomly interrupt his rhymes to the declaration that Grand Champ will be his farewell to the music biz-–is melodrama personified. So while the moaning female vocals (including, on the gospel sayonara "Thank You," Patti LaBelle) and orchestration ("The Rain") take DMX further than ever from gutta level—-and closer to his despised descendant Ja Rule-—the rap Vegas treatment is perfectly logical. In fact, it's downright necessary; hearing X roar that he's the son of Satan over a snappy but polite Swizz Beatz club cut, for example, doesn't pack the punch it did five albums and a hip-hop lifetime ago. His big voice and big, good-vs-evil themes (which have always dwarfed the actual verses he's created) now need the gold lame beats of Grand Champ to deliver one last howling high.
 
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