DMX - Undisputed (Track by Track Review)

Album Cover

What’s up all? It’s been a while seen I sent a post and an album review so here goes …. I’ve seen a lot of talk about the new DMX album so I thought I should do a track by track review about it since I was naughty and downloaded it (Still going to buy a copy when its out in the UK) but unfortunately I couldn’t wait. I won’t be judging this album’s sound quality because most leaks are pretty bad quality anyway.

I’m going to start off by saying I’m a HUGE fan of DMX, I’ve always loved X and has mad respect for the dog. DMX has always been one of the realest rappers out in my eyes and I’ve been buying every album since his debut It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.

12 years ago X was blowing up the Billboard Charts, selling millions and starring films. These years went from (1998-2003) and I call this the ‘Ruff Ryders’ era. During this era X had a few run ins with the law, but not enough to stop him. However, after we fast forward the clock a bit we see X getting into a lot of trouble, and doing many jail sentences for silly things such as impersonating an FBI agent, crashing his SUV through an airport gate to avoid paying a $9 (about £5.50) toll and having many problems with marijuana. During this time I didn’t think much of it and although some of the things he did were damn stupid (and funny) I still thought X was going to continue to blow up in the rap game.

Fast Forward the clock even more and after a 3 year ‘break’ of legal issues we get Year of the Dog… Again. Nothing like his debut, but still a good album full off solid tracks.

Now after this, things went downhill again for X, he had many more legal issues (especially with his driving) and was sentenced to prison once again. During this time X was slowly forgotten about and did not release a new album and new music of course because of the time he was in prison and his ongoing drug battle. Fast foward to today and DMX is still going through alot of troubles. He’s had a bit of a break from the law after being released from Arizona prison in 2011 but recently has had a divorce with his wife and there have been many rumours that X is back on drugs, and I’ll leave that up to you to decide. But now he has now  released his ‘comeback’ album titled ‘Undisputed’.

Now I’ve got to be honest with you, I was doubting this album like many others and thought it would be a failed trashy attempt at a comeback which would consist of all mainstream material, because that’s what rappers tend to do when their trying to get back into the game. They think it’ll get them new fans but what they don’t do is keep it real and cater for the old ones. Most artists who stay out of the game for a certain number of years tend to fall off and become history… Fortunately, Undisputed is not that.

Now let’s get straight into this review

(INTRO) — Looking without seeing

Well what can I say this is an intro. Not much to say here apart from the fact that X boasts his singing skills with a melodic beat that quickly transitions into ‘What they don’t know’. X claims that he is going to change in this intro and that we don’t know what he’s been going through in his life, which to some extent is very true. The intro runs 50 seconds long.

TRACK 1 — What They Don’t Know (Prod. Swizz Beatz)

This track opens up to some nice heavily trumpeted production by long time collaborator Swizz Beatz and DMX yelling at us ‘What they don’t know’. The verses are quite catchy and the DMX is singing in the chorus, which is something fans might want to prepare for a bit more on this album. Lyrically it’s DMX talking shit, which is why most of us all love him. X is good at talking shit and he does an even better job at it when he’s rapping/yelling it with a catchy beat supporting him. While it’s definitely no ‘X gon give it to ya’ or ‘Where the hood at’ it’s something I’ll be bumping in the future and it has a nice feel to it.

Track 2 — Cold World (Feat. Adreena Mills) (Prod. BY DAME GREASE & SNAZ)

Track 2 is a nice relaxing track which features Adreena Mills. It is produced by Dame Grease & Snaz. I like the beat on this one. It has a piano styled feel to it. Adreena opens up in the track singing about us living in a cold world and how although we hate it, we are the ones who contribute to it. We only get one verse from X on this one and he sounds a tad sloppy but I think we all expected this. X’s and Adreena’s vocals fit nicely together. Less Adreena and more DMX though.

Track 3 — I Don’t Dance (Feat. Machine Gun Kelly) (prod. by JR Rotem)

Arguably the most debatable song on the album. There have been mixed reviews about this track and another thing people seem to be unhappy about is the fact that X collaborated with Machine Gun Kelly, a wack mainstream rapper in some peoples eyes. The track itself actually leaked many years back in 2009. The only new thing about the 2012 version is that it features a new verse from MGK and remastered production from J.R Rotem. Meaning that X didn’t actually spit on the track for 3 years (cheeky lazy bastard). This song is an attempt at a club banger like some of X’s previous very successful songs such as ‘X gon give it to ya’, ‘Where the hood at’, ‘Get it on the floor’ and ‘Party up’. I’ll let you decide what you think of the beat on this one but personally it’s a bit too repetitive for my liking. X does sound aggressive on this though and I don’t mind the MGK combination, for me it works. I don’t mind the track and it took a few listens for me to get into. You may or may not like the chorus depending on what you think of DMX’s singing, I like it but it may take you a while to get into. It’s a great one to pump at a party as background music. The track has grown onto me. Lyrically DMX is talking about what separate’s him from others and what makes him the best. 

Track 4 — Sucka for Love (Feat. Dani Stevenson) (Prod. By deezle)

When It comes to a comeback album it looks like X is a sucka for recycled content. This track was actually released in 2010. Despite that I actually really like it. It has a nice catchy gutair loop and singer Dani Stevenson opens up the track and supports X in his verses with some smooth R&B tones. X actually sings the chorus himself which like I said before is something you might want to get used to in this album. Lyrically X is on point here, it’s typical ‘What these bitches want’ lyricism and it matches the beat. It’s the kind of I don’t give a f*ck DMX that we all like.

Track 5 — I Get Scared (Feat. Rachel Taylor) (Prod. By Dame Grease)

Love this track. Never heard it before and it’s produced by Dame grease who has done some of X’s old songs such as ‘Damien’. The track opens up to a piano melody and is then followed by a series of growls by DMX which sounds very sloppy and I think was very unnecessary, sounds kind of funny. We then get a nice chorus by a chick who goes by the name of Rachel Taylor, never heard of her but she can sing. The two sing the chorus together. Lyrically this one is a different story to the previous songs, this one’s a bit more emotional and X is talking about how there’s times in his life where he gets scared, but he know he’s going to be alright. X doesn’t do to badly on the chorus.

Track 6 — Slipping Again (Prod. by Bird)

Personally, I think this is one of the best songs on the album. It made my feel like crying. The emotion in X’s voice and the sad instrumental really bring out the pain inside X and you can really feel what he is going through. Favourite line on the song is
"Think having money is the answer? Money ain’t nothing but another form of cancer"

X tells us that we should think before we say something because you never really know what that person is going through. X sings on the chorus once again, very emotional. The song makes you realise that he is actually aware of all the crack accusations. Does it compare to the old slippin? You decide.

Skit — Prayer (Interlude Prod. By X)

A nice spiritual addition to the album and DMX continues his tradition of having a prayer on each one. It fits nicely after Slippin Again’ as both tracks are calling out to God. Glad to see X continuing to lift the Lord’s name up with pride.

Track 7 — I’m Back (Prod. By Bird)

Once again a trumpet styled beat in the background which X always sounds good over. Like the song and the sample they used, has a kind of old school feel to it. The big disappointment here is that the track is only 2:33, too short for my liking. X is just talking about how he’s back and undisputed in this one and nothing’s really changed for him in the game. This song would be a great one to bump to if they had made it longer.

Track 8 — Have You Eva? (Prod. By Dame Grease)

Have you Eva heard this song before? Because I certainly have. In fact I heard it 2 years ago, it was the 2nd single from ‘the mixtape’. Once again we see X using recycled content here, I don’t really mind if he’s recycling content that has been leaked, but come on X, stuff that has intentionally been released then re-released, that’s a bit annoying for me and hardcore X fans who were expecting some new shit from the album. None the less, it’s a great track. Quite an inspirational one too. X is telling us that we all go through stages in our lives, ups, downs, highs and lows and he’s telling us to push on and get through it. Really like the sample that is used here, has a kind of 80’s feel to it. X’s singing sounds kinda sloppy on the chorus but It has a gritty feel to it and overall it’s a great track to bump to when you’re a bit down.

Track 9 — Get Your Money Up (Prod. By Snaggs)

Get your money up leaked last early last year. The beat sounds similar to ‘Where the hood at’ in the way that once again we see DMX spitting over a trumpet styled beat. The song was actually released on the 2012 Rock the bells Official Mixtape. Once again X is recycling content, the main thing that will disappoint die-hard X fans. It’s not a bad track but I’m not feeling X’s energy as much here either. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t get into this one as much here. And it kills the flow of tracks at this stage of the album. The chorus is pretty aggressive but the beat is too repetitive for my liking.

Track 10 — Head Up (Prod. By Tronzilla)

This song is another one of my favourites on the album. It’s a gospel record and I suppose there will be some that don’t like that, but personally I am a spiritual person so I love it. It is inspiring in the way that DMX has kept his faith throughout all he has been through. The song has beautiful piano combined with DMX’s hard hitting vocals and a choir for the chorus. X peformed the song some time back on Drew’s Life Changers but the actual studio version didn’t leak which I am happy about. I recommend listening to this song even if you don’t know anything about God, It might inspire you to learn some more about him. It’s very true what X says though, God has pulled him through alot. X assures himself and fans that his future will be ‘greater’ and that God only wants the best for him.

Track 11 — Frankenstein (Prod. By Caviar)

Wasn’t too keen on this song when I first heard it. I expected much more from a joint with Caviar to be honest, but after a couple of listens it really grew on me. The beat and simple chorus becomes somewhat catchy and sounds kind of radio friendly. Not X’s best work but I like it. The simple chorus consists of DMX yelling ‘We gone tear shit up’. Kind of like a watered down version of X gon give it to ya’. The bongo/synth beat really does grow on you after a few listens. Atleast it did for me. The only problem with this track was the title, kinda misleading but the song is still cool.

Track 12 — Ya’ll Don’t Really Know (Prod. By Swizz Beatz)

Now, I was very confused and still am when I first heard this joint. This collaboration was actually released by Swizz through one of his Monster Monday’s back in 2010. Now the thing that really confuses me is that the original version featured a nice verse from Busta Rhymes (original version can still be found on youtube). But for some strange reason they decided to cut him from the album? It’s no wonder the song only runs for 2 minutes and 34 seconds. Anyway, the song starts off with a kind of star wars themed beat and leaps straight away into DMX singing on the chorus. Really like the beat on this one, straight fire. It’s produced by Swizz Beatz, who actually originally had the rights to this song, (Released as Swizz Beatz Featuring Busta Rhymes and DMX). It’s way too short and they should’ve kept Busta’s verse on there, don’t know why they decided to drop him. I’ve just downloaded the original and replaced the new version on the album with the busta one, I suggest you do the same.

Track 13 — I Got Your Back (feat. Kashmere)

Never heard of the chick on this track, but I quite like this one. It’s DMX talking about being there for his wife (or whoever) and shit and how he’s got her back. We get a nice verse from this Kashmere rapper who I’d never heard of before. When I first heard it I thought it was Eve rapping, shame it wasn’t but oh well it’s a nice addition to the song. Beat is nice and lyrically we get the luvey duvey kind of X which was introduced on his track off of the weigh in with tyrese, “That’s my baby”. It’s nice though to see DMX being supportive like that. Pretty dope relaxing beat. X sounds a bit sloppy on this one though.

Track 14 — No Love (Feat. Adreena Mills)

Once again we get some nice smooth vocals from this Adreena chick here, really flows with X. Lyrically X is talking about his love for music on this one and just his life in general and how ‘if he can’t fck with us for real, he can’t fck with us at all’. X tells us that he trusts his friends to stab him in the back and he trusts them to steal from him, which is something X has gotten used to over the years. He spoke about this in his interview with Dr Drew on Life Changers.

Track 15 — Already (Prod. By Divine Bars)

Now this one is another one that leaked a while back in 2008, but I don’t mind this being on the album, because it seriously is a banger! It’s another one of my favourites on the album despite the fact that it was recorded a while back, it has a great energetic vibe to it. DMX really does stay true to himself on it and gives us that raw energy I don’t give a f*ck feel. The beat is fantastic on this one and is a great song to box to or workout to. Lyrically X is talking about youknow the usual stuff, cats, him being the dog, people betraying him, but that’s what I love hearing X talk about and yell about, because it sounds so great! It’s once again a heavily trumpeted beat produced by Divine Bars. The chorus is quite a catchy one. The Music Video has actually also been leaked on the internet (Also on DVD of the Deluxe edition).

Overall Rating

Phew, that took a fair while, but if you’ve stayed with me till the end I definitely recommend this album. Sure It’s not X’s greatest work but hey he’s come a long way and honestly I know a lot of you (including me) thought this was going to be a throw out piece of shit album, and while it’s no Grand Champ, it’s not that either, atleast he has stayed true to himself lyrically. There are a few hints X drops throughout the album to say that he might not be done with music yet, let’s hope X still has a few more real records up his sleeve. He’s attempted different styles throughout the album, some of which I didn’t like and some of which I did. Guest appearance wise I don’t care much, It would’ve been nice to get Busta on that joint but for some reason it didn’t make the cut. I would have also liked more Swizz Beatz productions, maybe one Scott Storch track and  one or two tracks with Eve, D-Block(Styles P, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch) and of course Drag-On. Anyway if you are a true hip-hop and X fan you would not be listening to this album for the guest appearances. Wish that joint with Swizz Time to Get Paid would’ve been on the album, that was a classic but unfortunately they wanted a lot of money for that biggie sample.

So go support the dog and grab a copy of Undisputed which came out on the 11th of September! Oh and did I mention that X will be donating all proceeds to victims/families of the 9/11 attacks. I think that just goes to show how much of a heart DMX has.

Stay tuned for more in depth reviews in the future. Follow me on twitter @dec4p

7.6/10

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