Retro Review: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot

Retro Review: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot album cover
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It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, by DMX

It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot was the mainstream introduction for DMX to most of the world. (I say “most” because, I heard him on that LL project the year before, and apparently he was on a Mic Geronimo project, with Jay-Z and Ja Rule, in 1995. He goes even further back to 1992, with a track that I’d never even heard of until I was researching for this introduction haha.) That being said, I’m glad that this was the first one that got him some of the recognition he deserves.

  • Lyrics
  • Instrumentation
  • Production
  • Features
  • Longevity
  • Impact
  • Personal Preference
4.5
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Review

Lyrics
He might not be in anyone’s top 5, but for anyone to say DMX was actually bad back then, is a damn liar. So gritty, so raw, yet, still somehow melodic when he needs to be. Not only that, he wasn’t on some basic-ass rhymes. That’s a package that’s hard to come by in any era.
Instrumentation
You’ve got the classic New York instrumentals on here, with a little bit of a horror theme added in. Simple, effective, and yet, still amazing. Dame Grease and PK definitely found the sound that fits X. Swizz and Irv Gotti brought some good stuff for the songs they were involved, with as well. I don’t really have any complaints at all.
Production
The mixing on this album was pretty solid. Not the best by today’s standards, but it’s still listenable by them.  There were a couple moments throughout the album that could’ve used a little more attention, but hey, we all make mistakes.
Features
I don’t care what anyone says, and I’ll say it every time he comes up, Drag-On is one of the most underrated artists from this era. Not only did he fit so well with X, he holds his own well. Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, Drag-On came correctly on “For My Dogs” along with Stan. Jadakiss (sounding young as fuck haha), Styles, and Sheek blended so well with DMX on their song. Whoever decided to make them part of the Ruff Ryders, earned their paycheck. Not gonna lie, I’m not a big Ma$e fan, but even he came through to mesh well on that same track.
Longevity
Considering how often I still hear “Get at Me Dog” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” nobody can say this album isn’t a classic. Some of the others still get play too, so there it is. It will be long-lived, even if people wanna act like they forgot about the dog.
Impact
I mean, #1 on the Billboard top 200, 6x platinum…it’s pretty safe to say this album hit hard when it came out. The whole Ruff Ryders camp launched off this album, so you can thank DMX for everyone that stemmed from that.
Personal Preference
I love It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot…like…LOVE. Haha. It’s assuredly in my top 10 of all-time, even though they kinda rotate within that number, depending on my mood. DMX forever earned my respect, no matter what he’s up to now.

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