Thursday, November 20, 2008

Throwback Thursdays: DMX - Ruff Ryders Anthem (1998)

Another email request from an RLGL listener. Keep the emails coming.

This song is so classic. It's very representative of the NY rap scene at the time, actually. I remember when I was in middle school, the two biggest rappers at the time were DMX and Jay-Z. Of course, that meant the two biggest labels were Ruff Ryders and Roc-A-Fella. (It sounds almost foolish to say this now, but I'm pretty sure from 1998 to about 2000, DMX was actually better than Hov. Blueprint changed all that, but I'm just sayin'.) This record was not only a breakout hit on X's debut album, it also established his entire clique by way of the song's title.

Now, prior to his first album coming out, DMX created a buzz for himself by appearing on records such as this and this. His gritty, aggressive flow was a unique and welcome difference to some of the other music that was popular at the time. Dude had bars, but he also had a history of creating both excessive ("I got blood on my d*ck, cuz I f*cked a corpse") and borderline homo ("You hold my d*ck while he suckin' it") lyrics. 1998 was a good year for hip-hop, though, as expressed in this article.

If you look closely enough, you'll see Eve, Drag-On and all three members of the L.O.X. in the video. They were a pretty dope tandem of rappers, and it's a shame that they aren't all still together. They actually went on a huge tour with Roc-A-Fella back in 1998 called the Hard Knock Life Tour, which, I assume, is where this legendary battle cypher took place.

X started his career off real strong, with his first three albums going four, three and six times platinum, respectively. Things started to go downhill for the Dark Man with his fourth album, which still managed to go platinum, but just wasn't as good as his first three. After he dropped his fifth album, he said he was going to retire, and there were rumors buzzing around that he was planning on pursuing a career as a preacher. While preaching would be a direct contrast to his rap persona, it remained somewhat believable, considering that he used to rap a prayer at the end of every album.

He didn't retire or become a preacher, instead opting to drop a sixth solo album three years later. All the while, he had been starring in bad movies and getting arrested. Nowadays, he's always in the news for some sort of felony or misdemeanor. I can't tell you the last time he put out a record, but it seems that he manages to get arrested at least once a month. Speeding, DUIs, cocaine name it, he's done it. The funniest, in my opinion, is when he stole a car at an airport and pretended to be a federal agent. You really can't make this stuff up.

It's safe to say that drugs ruined what was once a very successful rap career. To think that he and Jay-Z were actually comparable at one point, it's sad to see how far apart they are now. This is still a great song, though.

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