The Year of the Dog Again

posted August 04, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 126 comments

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Like so many of DMX's previous albums, The Year of the Dog...Again sounds more conflicted than confident. DMX offers a pseudo-religious message blurred by countless references to heaven, drugs, hell, sex, the devil, and poetic prayers for forgiveness.

He does, however, remind us of who started the Ja Rule/ 50 Cent genre of thug/singer rap. On "Life Be My Song" DMX sings an extended hook, which is repeated not once, not twice, but 12 times. Not only is this track almost all hook (singing) but X actually gets improvisational the last few times through. It's HILIARIOUS.

DMX fans will be happy to know that The Year of the Dog...Again also takes time out to offer a sixth prayer installment ("The Prayer VI"), this invocation admonishing us to:
1. Not love the world or anything in it
2. Live for Jesus
3. Honor our men and our ladies

That's funny, because earlier on this album DMX blatantly contradicted all three of these on one track: "Baby Motha", where DMX says, and I quote:

"Youse a stupid bitch, a real fucking stupid bitch... You ain't nothing but a stupid bitch. Bitch!"

Female: (singing) "I don't give a hell what you say... I ain't never gonna go away I'ma stalk you till I find you, turn around be right behind you. Be in the bushes outside your house, just waiting for you to come out, I'ma stupid bitch. Real fucking stupid bitch, I ain't nothing but a stupid bitch. "


Most of the album is fraught with contradictory content. Immediately following "Baby Motha" is a track called "Dog Love" (no, seriously). Incredibly, it features Amerie talking about how there's no love like a dog's love. On the positive side, DMX's wordplay and delivery are on point and Swizz Beatz provides enough signature production to keep things moving. The first single "We in Here" has Swizz on the hook, and is a sure-fire party starter. "It's Personal" is another highlight, with Jadakiss and Styles P both adding quality verses about disrespect in the game.

DMX also does a good job at effortlessly switching between his trademark bark/ growl to a calm, somber style, which fits the characteristically dark beats. Nowhere is this clearer than on "Come Thru (Move)" which also features Busta Rhymes. "Lord Give Me a Sign" is the inspirational 2nd single, which DMX opens up "in the name of Jesus". The beat hits, and the song does has an uplifting feel. The dog's pendulum swings all the way to the Gospel side on this one. In fact, if it weren't for the rest of the violence and misogyny on the album the last 5 tracks could pass for church music.

The album fairly consistent of what DMX has become - lost. Much like his outlandish antics and brushes with the law, X is all over the place on wax, battling incoherence and sane thinking. Let me put it like this: If you've ever a) gone to the club, b) gotten drunk, c) started a fight, d) took something home, and then e) set the alarm clock for Sunday school, then you'll love this album.

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