Ranking the Best DMX Albums

It seems like every couple of months the Internet tries to prematurely murder someone.

Just a few days ago, DMX was the latest death hoax victim.

I knew it was fake though – no one has endured more tribulation than Earl Simmons and stood his ground. He’s like the Luke Cage of tabloids – no matter how many shots they take, the dude just won’t go down.

Most younger fans only know X for the drama but if you’re reading this post, you know Dark Man X is much bigger than memes and reindeer games. He’s one of the biggest stars in rap history, racking up 74 million albums sold worldwide, is the first rapper to drop two No. 1 albums in the same calendar year (more on that later), and six of his seven albums have all topped the charts.

Your fave can’t pull numbers like that.

Let’s look back at the dog’s storied but very controversial catalog. As always, we’ll be just ranking his official solo LPs, skipping compilations and mixtapes, and judging his material based on quality, impact and cohesiveness.

Travel back to a time when the dog owned the yard.

year of the dog again

7. Year of the Dog … Again (2006)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: Yikes. The greatest criticism of DMX is that he refused to evolve over the years. And by 2006, he was getting staler than week-old dog food. There are a few morsels here and there on this release but it was apparent that the dog was not trying to learn any new tricks. That did him no favors.

Forgotten favorites: “Baby Motha,” “We In Here”
undisputed

6. Undisputed (2012)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Stop frontin, you know you forgot this album existed. DMX’s comeback following a six-year layoff may not have been the rousing success he expected but it wasn’t a total embarrassment either. Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease and others provide solid production and X occasionally gives us glimpses of his glory days. Overall, though, the album is just too long and lethargic to stand up to the greats.

Forgotten favorites: “Already,” “Have You Eva,” “I’m Back”

Read the Soul In Stereo review here

grand champ

5. Grand Champ (2003)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: I’ll be real with y’all – I did NOT like this album in 2003. But time brings perspective and, looking back, it’s much better than I originally gave it credit for. It feels like a bit of a last hurrah for the Ruff Ryder squad, as X’s crew are all over this album – and sometimes X gets lost in the multitude of guests. However, it’s a pretty fun release overall. Trim about three or four tracks and dump the skits and X could have had something special.

Forgotten favorites: “Dogs Out,” “Get It On the Floor,” “We’re Back”

and then there was x

4. …And Then There Was X (1999)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: …And Then There Was X dropped at the peak of DMX’s popularity (old folks are STILL out saying “up in here, up in here” like it’s hot new slang) so this album is pretty fondly remembered. But nostalgia can be blinding – this is when X’s growling pitbull shtick started getting a little old. The album has its share of memorable hits, but as an overall package it’s not nearly as cohesive as his earlier efforts.

Forgotten favorites: “Fame,” “One More Road to Cross,” “Here We Go Again”

the great depression

3. The Great Depression (2001)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Now I know this ranking’s gonna give me the most grief, but I stand by it. A lot of fans began to fall out of love with the Dark Man by 2001, as his dog (heh) and pony show started to get a little repetitive. But I thought The Great Depression was a solid callback to his early years. The album returns to his early themes of faith and is home to a few underrated cuts as well. It’s his most overlooked work.

Forgotten favorites: “Trina Moe,” “Damien III,” “I Miss You”

flesh-of-my-flesh

2. Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Just six months after dropping his celebrated debut, DMX shocked fans by dropping YET ANOTHER LP. And what you might expect would be a quick label cash-in wound up being one of X’s most beloved releases. The guest stars might have been more high-profile this time around (Mary J. Blige, Jay Z, even Marilyn Manson of all people) but X didn’t compromise his sound. It’s the same growling, aggressive dog fans came to love.

Forgotten favorites: “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood,” “Dogs for Life,” “We Don’t Give a F***”

its dark and hell is hot

1. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)

Soul In Stereo rating: 5 stars out of 5

Edd said: There was never any doubt, was there? If you weren’t around in 1998, it might be hard to understand the magnitude of this album. While Puffy n’ friends had the rap world shimmying in shiny suits over rehashed soul hits, X kicked in the door with a raw intensity. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot lived up to its name – a chilling, gritty opus that that depicted X as a troubled sinner seeking salvation by any means necessary. It’s the album responsible for kicking off the Ruff Ryders’ reign of dominance, reshaping the sound of rap in the early 00s and making DMX a megastar. Y’all wanna talk classics? THIS is a classic.

Forgotten favorites: “Intro,” “Let Me Fly,” “ATF”

What are your favorite DMX albums and antics? Let us know below.

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