Sunday, September 30, 2012

DMX "Undisputed," a review


DISCLAIMER

The structure of this review will not take each track in order, but will instead lump the necessary tracks all into various categories: Hits, Mixed, Misses.


INTRO

I should explain my history with X. I first heard him through the headphones of a movie theater manager named Matt, and when I asked him who he was listening to (I had just heard of this person named 'Biggy') he simply turned and looked at me and said:

"You ain't ready for him."

I really wasn't. I went and asked my best friend Holland who X was, and he gave me the same response. I suppose being known as "the spiritual guru" at the theater may have created a few earned thoughts on my musical preferences.

Well, when I first sneaked a listen to X, I was instantly hooked. Ruff Ryder's Anthem. I mean, the song was deplorable, but every time I heard it was at the theater (a deplorably awesome time in my life) it became a hidden sound track to my life. Since then, I've gotten all of his albums and listened almost religiously.

It's been over five years since X released a studio album. Does X bring it back?

HITS

What They Don't Know brings the heat. X starts barking and growling over the sounds of trumpets and saxophones. The lyrics aren't particularly deep, but references to Deebo and Cee-Lo made me chuckle.

Cold World ft. Adreena Mills is a bomb track. Adreena can sing, man can she sing. The lyrics aren't as probing as I would've liked, but her singing voice is angelic. X tries keeping a low bass rap that works well with the piano and low-end production.

I Don't Dance is a highlight for me, and it features Machine Gun Kelly, one of my favorite rising rappers. The song is X channeling Party Up, setting the club on fire. The song also has some killer lines in the chorus about X dancing. Which had me wondering how that would look.

Get Your Money Up is X back in his natural flow. A barking aggressive track where X finds his groove. What!

Already is another highlight. X's barking works with the beat, the bass booms and the backing synths and tone are a symphony of beauty. X is hot here.

MIXED

Sucka For Love has Dani Stevenson doing a great job setting the stage, with guitar work that reminded me of RHCP. However, X sounds a little tired here, and his voice sounds off. Closer to Scarface than X. Which is cool. And X equates love with big butts. I'm sure the two aren't mutually exclusive.

I Get Scared is a decent confessional, but X's opening barking and growling were, for me, distracting. I half-expected Young Jeezy to pop out instead of Rachel Taylor. She is awesome. X is at his best when he is reflective, but he doesn't come close to A Minute for Your Son. Also worth noting is that the album is notoriously missing a tough female MC.

Prayer is a staple of X's material, often opening and ending an album with him praying to God. As usual, it is passionate but still feels out of place. I wish X had done more of this thematically throughout the album.

Have You Eva is yet another track of X moving slow. X can definitely pull it off, but he sounds like he's trying to write a radio hit here, and it doesn't work that well. The guitar and clapping reminded me of Love The Way You Lie by Eminem. Its a solid if unremarkable track.

MISSES

Looking Without Seein' unfortunately has excellent production, but X sounds like he's trying to pull a Drake. Singing slow has never been X's strong suit, and it doesn't work here.

Slippin' Again doesn't work at all. X sounds tone-deaf. The beat is slow, and X is still growling.

I'm Back is too slow of a song for the energy X puts into it. The production would work better if X wasn't as into it. He sounds too fast for the beat.

Frankenstein's production sounds like it was made on a laptop. The chorus is annoying and X's voice sounds like the volume has been pumped up. By far one of the worst tracks on the album.

Fire, F*ck You B*tch and Love That B*tch all suffer from sounding the same, and being roughly similar in content. Each is boring and unnecessary.

OUTRO

Already is the seventeen track on Undisputed. Three tracks follow, and they are all similar and weak. Already was a major highlight of the album, and the following three tracks needed to be cut and dropped.

Overall, this album is not as bad as Relapse (which had one good track, which was Beautiful), but it is a mediocre album compared to X's previous work. However, there are enough sparks in here to warrant some hope for the future. What is good is really good. What doesn't work really doesn't work. Eminem started with Relapse and moved to Recovery, one of my favorite albums.

I'm expecting X to really come back soon.

3 out of 5. 

--Nick

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