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Posted by J. Tinsley on June 4, 2009

Forgotten by many a rap fan, there was once a time when Jay-Z didn’t hold the coveted, yet imaginary crown of “King of New York” by unanimous decision.  The year was 1998 and the album was It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. Not only did it display a sharp contrast of the commercial, shiny-suit Bad Boy era, it signified a return to gritty New York hip-hop equipped with rugged lyrics and instrumentals to match. Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, was the culprit and what would happen next would bolster the Yonkers MC’s name to the top of the hip-hop charts.

While his first album was undoubtedly my favorite, he’d go on to release Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and And Then There Was X, both wildly successful albums.  However, even with his first five LP’s reaching #1, the promise that X showed so early in his career began to fade as drugs and other personal issues would encompass his life.  That was always the one factor that separated him from his Brooklyn counterpart, longevity. Jay mastered it, while X fell victim to it.

Skipping ahead to the present day, Earl is finally a free man (again). Even though I’m not sure if he’ll ever go through on releasing the two albums on the same day promise, I have, however, thought of a list of requirements which could make his comeback album a successful one.

First things first, it is important to note that the days of X going platinum are a thing of the past. No disrespect towards Earl, but unless your name is T.I., Wayne, Jay, Eminem, Kanye, Jeezy and by the looks of it, Drake, don’t expect to see seven figures on your album sales return sheet anytime soon. Keeping it strictly music, here’s what My Name Is Earl (imaginary album title) needs to be a successful album, musically.

1. Let Dame Grease do the majority of the album

  • Some artists just sound better with certain producer, i.e. Nas and Premo and T.I. and Toomp. Such was the case with X and Grease. Since the man, who was affiliated with pit bulls long before a certain NFL star, fell off the map, Grease has gone on to re-energize himself in the music industry with production on DJ Drama’s first album single, “Feds Takin’s Pictures”, and Freeway and Jay-Z’s “Big Spender”. Hooking back up with Earl could mean wonders for the sound of his (X’s) music and maybe, just maybe, sparks of yesteryear would expose themselves. Remember, Grease did “Get At Me Dog” and the CLASSIC posse’ cut, “Niggaz Done Started Something”.
  • By the way, Swizz has to do at least two tracks on the album. It’s only right.

2. Live in Yonkers for awhile

  • You’re probably wondering why was this was mentioned. X has been away from Y.O. for so long that his music packed up and went to Arizona with him. No disrespect to Willy Northpole or any rapper from ‘Zona, but we, the fans, want the X that roamed around the dark, damp and rough New York streets with more stories than a daycare at nap time. Who knows would going back home for a period of time could do for his psyche. Maybe nothing, but at this point in his career, why not try?

3. Stick with features suitable to X

  • Although it’d never happen, the prospect of seeing another “Murdergram” track with him, Jay-Z and Ja Rule would be legendary to say the least. One of the main reasons why his earlier albums were so successful was due to the fact X surrounded himself with rappers that complimented his style. With the LOX still spitting at a very high caliber, nabbing them for a track(s) would be an obvious choice. Thinking outside of the box, on the other hand, wouldn’t necessarily be a band thing either. Bun B and Scarface would be two artists I wouldn’t mind seeing X trade vocals with. Hell, if a smooth first single was needed, and call this bias, but a DMX/Trey Songz cut wouldn’t sound bad at all if executed correctly. Ron Browz and OJ Da Juiceman (who has been getting features as of late), however, not so much.

4. Be the first artist to get a verse from Shyne

  • This point could have easily went with suggestion three, but was so important that it needed its own forum. The (eventual) return of Jamal Barrow to hip-hop has been one of the most anticipated events since his entrance into the federal prison system almost a decade earlier. With Po’s history very well documented and X’s not hard to find either, a collaborative track between the two could be the biggest thing to happen to New York hip-hop since the Dipset Hot 97 freestyle days.

Expecting Earl to magically morph back into the 1998 DMX would be expecting too much, too far into his career. Food for thought however, Shawn Kemp was not the same player on the Cavs as he was on the Sonics, but Robert Horry managed to be the man wherever he went because of his willingness to adapt to his surroundings.

Take note, X.

Flashback: DMX–The Way It’s Gon Be | “Had A Spark When You Started…”


  1. Joe Fields said

    im callin it right now….. dmx is coming out at summerjam on sunday wit jadakiss to do the who’s real remix…. bet me any amount of money lol

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