Redemption of the Beast (released Jan. 13, 2015)
It’s been a strange and confusing couple of weeks for DMX and his fans.
Well, stranger than usual.
Not long ago, word leaked that DMX would follow the footsteps of D’Angelo and Beyonce, unexpectedly dropping his eighth album, Redemption of the Beast, out of the clear blue sky for his fans. Bandana and doo-rag sales were bout to skyrocket!
BUT WAIT: X popped up on Instagram saying that Redemption of the Beast was NOT the album he was working on, and new material was still on the way.
BUT THEN, label Seven Arts Music muzzled the dog, saying that they owned the masters of Redemption of the Beast, and they were dropping the material whether the Dark Man was on board or not.
All of this drama is infinitely more interesting than anything on Redemption of the Beast. What could have been an entertaining comeback, especially after X’s surprise cameo in Chris Rock’s “Top Five” film, winds up a tedious, unfocused cash-in by X’s label.
Half of the tracks here don’t even sound like they’ve been mastered. X sounds like a dog barking in a tin can on “I’m Gonna Win” and the quality issues makes the guitar riffs on “It’s a Problem” nearly unlistenable.”
Even though half the tracks sound they they were recorded through an electric fan, DMX still has occasional flashes of brilliance. He’s just as angry as ever on “On & On,” threatening everything that moves: “You know a n***a really p***y it when he says “I’m not looking for trouble, I just wanna do my job – F*CKS ME UP!” And despite a hackneyed sample, “Solid” lives up to its name, with a surprising guest verse from the Flipmode Squad’s Rampage. “56 Bars,” despite a beat that sounds like Swizz Beatz dug it up from a Walgreens bargain bin, is also enjoyable, thanks to X’s stream of consciousness flow. When he’s not shackled by horrible hooks and weak concepts, X can bring heat.
Too bad the rest of the album is filled with – you guessed it – horrible hooks and weak concepts.
Despite the barking and howling at the moon and stuff, X has always worn his heart on his sleeve and his faith has been a big part of his music. His gritty mix of spirituality and street insight is legendary. But things go HORRIBLY wrong on “Shout It,” an awkward gospel song that sounds like something the youth choir would sing on Sunday morning. “One More Night” is more in his introspective doghouse, but X sounds too lethargic to make an impact. And after threatening to maul Drake in an elevator a few years back, he bites Drizzy’s whiny crooning on the nearly unlistenable “How’s It Goin’ Down” – and no, it’s not THAT song. The original is about 47 zillion times better than this.
It’s pretty clear that this “album” wasn’t meant to see the light of day. It’s unfocused, unfinished and downright unnecessary. When the best verse BY FAR comes from Freeway on “Where You Been,” it’s clear that Redemption of the Beast should have stayed buried in the backyard.
Let’s just forget this album exists, OK? I’m really excited for X’s new material now because its gotta be better than this.
Best tracks: “56 Bars” and “Solid,” I guess.
2 stars out of 5