Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and list five reasons why it's either brilliant or dumb-assed. Send tips to email@example.com.
As we reported in Monday's Turning the Screw, yet another arrest warrant was issued for star-crossed hardcore rapper DMX. It took all of four days before the FBI, which apparently has nothing better to do, got a hold of him.
Such is life, we suppose: the sun rises and sets, Tuesday comes after Monday and DMX gets arrested. But we can't help but feel a little bad for him, if for no other reason than because his debut LP, It's Dark and Hell is Hot, remains one of the greatest, most poignant, rap albums of all time.
The fury of his polemic flow is derived from the unyielding authenticity of his threats - no matter how outrageous, nothing seems forced or contrite, the calling card of present-day tough-talkers like T.I. or Young Jeezy. Since X may not have the opportunity to make any new lyrical paroxysms for a while, we'll take this opportunity to relive its five strongest tracks.
"Get At Me": Sometimes you get the feeling certain artists were meant to record certain songs: Prince, "Adore"; Johnny Cash, "Ring of Fire"; Kevin Federline, "Popozao." DMX was meant to record this one. Sadly, the Shirtless Overalls As Cool look did not pan out for us.
"X Is Coming": On the list of Threats Given In Song, "And if you got a daughter older than 15, I'ma rapper. Take her, on the living room floor, right there in front of you, then ask you, "Seriously, what you wanna do?" has to be in the top two. Up until that point, nobody had delivered anything as visceral so convincingly.
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"How's It Going Down": For the longest time, we didn't understand the "Knew she was a thug because she had a scarf on" line. We seriously tried to find a correlation between keeping one's neck covered and being a thug. Maybe she has tattoos the bosses at her work would disapprove of?
Maybe she got stabbed in the neck and she's embarrassed by the scars? Maybe that's where she hides her gun? It drove us nuts and started more arguments than would be considered reasonable.
"Look Thru My Eyes": We're confident in guessing that the whimpering sound in the beginning of this song is, in fact, an audio sonogram recording of DMX as an infant. Somehow, this is only available as a chopped and screwed video, which disheartens us greatly. We suppose that's better than nothing, though, because the next one isn't available at all.
"Crime Story": X is at his most contained here, with his blustering aggression leashed by the story's narrative, but the slight, periodic inflections of his voice still move mountains. Find this song somewhere. (It would appear that we have a bit of a crush on X.) - Shea Serrano