Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Album Review: DMX - Exodus

** out of *****

With DMX passing away in Spring 2021, what was planned as a comeback album has turned into what will probably be the first of his many posthumous releases. Exodus loads up the guests and various styles showcasing different emotions and ideas over it’s thirteen tracks but leaves a bleak overall feeling when it wraps up. Perhaps it is his recent death or the troubled state he was in, but Exodus is anything but triumphant.

The album was co-produced by Swizz Beatz and musically it seems DMX was trying out a few different styles to see if anything stuck on the charts for a future full on return. Pulsing minimalist tracks sit side by side with circus sounds and modern day R&B as the disjointed feeling bounces from song to song. Opener “That’s My Dog” gets the gang back together with Lox and Swizz Beatz, before DMX offers up some of his best rhymes on the record.

Things tend to shift after that though as the headliner takes a back seat to his high profile guests on almost every song. Lil Wayne on “Dogs Out”, Nas on “Walking in the Rain” and Jay-Z on “Bath Salts” all shine brighter; perhaps a second verse from Dark Man X on all of these efforts would have been more influential. In interviews Swizz Beatz has mentioned that the album was completed before DMX’s passing, however there are times when it feels like more was needed, as if he is a guest on his own album.

This continues on “Hold Me Down” and “Skyscrapers” as DMX seems to be supporting Alicia Keys and Bono respectively while his raw style feels out of place on the smooth rolling beats of “Hood Blues”. The most successful combo is the gorgeous “Take Control” which brings in Snoop Dog and distorts some Marvin Gaye into a successful get down jam; it is the most complete track here as others feel lacking.

The album ends on two personal notes which hit harder with his recent passing. “Letter To My Son (Call Your Father)” reaches out directly to his family while “Prayer” gets spiritual as DMX seems exasperated, searching for a positive direction and guidance in prayer itself.

A swan song which doesn’t hold up with the New York City MC’s best, Exodus shows DMX could still get it going in short spurts but was trying to find true inspiration among the various styles. It was not to be, however DMX will never die as his raspy bark is instantly recognizable and will be bumped and sampled forever in hip-hop.
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video:

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