Album Review: Exodus by DMX

Earl Simmons, or better known by his stage name, DMX, was a rapper and songwriter based out of New York. DMX has a career spanning over three decades. He has made several hit songs over the years such as X Gon’ Give It To Ya and Party Up. Unfortunately, he passed away earlier in 2021 from a heart attack. Exodus marks the posthumous release from the late rapper, DMX.

The first track from the album is That’s My Dog. We don’t really get much from DMX to open up the album, just a few ad-libs until later in the track. We get a good amount of Swizz Beatz for the chorus however. Other than that, it’s an eerie and ambient-like track with a backing drumkit over it. This is exactly what I expected from DMX to open up the album since they’re not messing around with others with the aggressive rapping.

After that longer track, we have an exciting track that features Jay-Z and Nas, Bath Salts. The track opens up with some sort of distorted alarm that drones on for the rest of the track. Honestly, the beat just sets this up to be a banger, and all three rappers that had a verse kill it. This was originally going to be on a Nas album back in 2012, but was eventually cut. There was also another version of this in 2017 but again, they held off from releasing it. I’m glad that they finally were able to release it since this is easily one of the best tracks from the album.

Dogs Out opens up with some strings and the first thing that I notice is Lil Wayne is featured on here. The strings eventually fade out for a lighter beat with some bells and drums. We also finally have more of DMX on this track since it seemed like the previous tracks strayed away from DMX and more so focused on the features they were able to gather. This is just a fun track for them from what I’m hearing so I’m glad they were able to put these two rappers together.

Money Money Money has a fun electronic piano beat backing the track, which seems to be from a French artist in the 60s. It’s a pretty quick track, but I’m surprised that this track was originally supposed to have Pop Smoke instead of Moneybagg on here. Not really too thrilled with Moneybagg’s verse, or DMX for that matter. It’s a quick track with an amazing sample, so I guess I’m just disappointed that they didn’t take the effort to improve the track.

Hold Me Down is a fun track that has a mixture of some electronic beats mixed in with a piano. There’s times where it sounds out of a tune, so I think the experimentation with those two doesn’t mesh together that well. Also, Alicia Keys just sounds out of place on this track with DMX’s aggressive rapping. He is toning it down a lot more than what he normally shows, but his rough vocals just sound like a polar opposite from Alicia’s soft and smooth vocals.

Skyscrapers was a track that was planned for an album by DMX before his death. It also features another unlikely collaboration with Bono from U2. DMX talks about how he wanted a Miami feeling, which I can kind of hear, but it just doesn’t work for him in my opinion. This just sounds like the last track where you have the smooth and calming vocals from Bono, and then the exact opposite with DMX, whose vocals sound much more raspy and rough on this track.

We have an interesting skit on the track titled Stick Up Skit. Besides Party Up playing in the background of the skit, it’s exactly what the title says, a stick up. The skit was done by the late Icepick Jay, who was a the producer for the Ruff Ryders. Sounds a bit harsh and weird, but I guess it’s a way to honor the guy on a DMX album.

One of the promotional singles for this album was Hood Blues which featured several different high profile artists. I wasn’t really a fan of this track because the ad-libs just ruin it for me, especially Westside Gunn’s ‘brr’ noises. DMX doesn’t have the best ad-libs either with the ‘rrr’ sounds. Minus the different sounds we hear on the track, it’s a solid track with the classic hip hop beat. It’s also a dream collaboration since Conway and Benny just meld together with DMX’s rapping.

Take Control slows down the album and we have a smooth beat with a lot of sampling from Marvin Gaye’s track, Sexual Healing. Of course this isn’t complete without a Snoop Dogg feature. DMX is actually able to make his voice work on this track, not exactly sure why his voice sounds less raspy, but it works on this one. However, the lyrics are cringy at times, especially with DMX’s outro at the end of the track.

Walking In The Rain is another slowed down and soul inspired track. We also have Nas again on the album as well as a smaller artist and his son, Exodus Simmons. On this track, DMX seems to be reminiscing and thinking about different sort of things that have happened during his lifetime. Other than that, DMX’s vocals are actually decent during the chorus. However, it quickly changes when he starts rapping. I’ve said it before on this review, but he needs to have a lighter approach on these lighter tracks.

We have another skit on this album, however this one is a bit shorter, titled Exodus Skit. This has to do with his son, Exodus Simmons. There’s really not too much going on with this track, other than his son is saying hi to DMX.

The next track is a little bit more emotional in taste, Letter To My Son. We get a quiet guitar and some orchestral strings to open up the track. We also get some classic DMX ad-libs that have been present on the majority of the album. This was another track that was announced to be on his comeback album. I feel like this may have to do with one of his older children since he has fifteen. He talks about not wanting him to make the same mistakes that he had made in life.

The final track on the album is Prayer, which is basically just a spoken word piece. This prayer was actually recorded from one of Kanye West’s Sunday Service a little over two years ago. The producers talk about there being another one where he was rapping, but they felt like this one was a better fit for the album.

As solid as some of these tracks are, it’s mostly others doing the work for DMX. It feels like a lot of these tracks are filled with more features than it is with DMX. I get that he passed away and the album wasn’t completely finished, but from what I’ve been reading, they’ve been snipping and moving around the rapping clips from different tracks.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Favorite Tracks: Bath Salts, Hood Blues, Take Control

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