DMX Is Back On Def Jam. It’s About To Get Hot Again

At the beginning of this year (January 25), DMX was released from a West Virginia prison after spending much of 2018 behind bars for a tax evasion conviction. Since then, the onetime superstar has been on a climb that feels distinct in a career filled with peaks and valleys. The 48-year-old Yonkers, New York representative toured to honor the 20th-anniversary of his debut album. In May, he was among the headliners at Minnesota’s Soundset Festival. Then, at the close of August, X dropped his most significant song in years, appearing alongside Swizz Beatz and Rick Ross for “Just In Case.” The track is from The Godfather Of Harlem soundtrack, which Swizzy is overseeing.

As a guest on Angie Martinez’ show, Swizz spoke about the song and his role in the soundtrack. While doing so, the collaborator to many of X’s biggest hits made a huge revelation. At 15:00, Angie asks Swizz about his loyalty to people, especially DMX.

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“Certain people, I gotta cross the water,” he notes, symbolizing his show of respect. “I’m like, damn. It’s raining out; I ain’t even bring my raincoat—but we gotta go. X is one of them [people].” He jokes that we will be there in any weather for the artist who involved him on 1998 chart-topping It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, and many releases since.

“‘Cause I know who he really is. It’s a difference, if he was what people probably kinda think he is—maybe a bad person, maybe this, maybe that. I know [DMX]. Like, we slept on floors together. Right? So just making that, alone with him, is an honorable badge that I gotta always—I used to say ‘hold him down,’ [but now I say], ‘lift him up.’ The difference between now and then is that he wants to lift himself up also. And that’s why we’re [currently] getting this different type of X, with the consistency, and [activity], and even the way he’s rapping on the Ross song.” The producer added, “You know, [he] got his deal with Def Jam now. He’s got a bunch of movies on the table. When it’s right, it’s right. But it’s only right when he wanted it to be right. This has been the most consistent I’ve seen [him].”

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DMX’s greatest success came during his tenure at Def Jam. Between 1998 and 2003, the rapper released five consecutive #1 albums at the label that was also then home to JAY-Z, LL Cool J, Method Man, Foxy Brown, and Ja Rule, among others. X’s Def Jam catalog achieved more than 14 million units sold, based on certifications alone. Each of those records released in conjunction with Ruff Ryders, which was also home to Swizz. After Grand Champ, X moved to Columbia Records, where he peaked at #2 with 2006’s Year Of The Dog…Again.

In the last 13 years, DMX released several independent titles. Def Jam’s roster currently includes Kanye West, Pusha-T, Logic, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz, among others. In early 2017, Swizz Beatz played a song that featured X, Jay, Nas, and Jadakiss during a live, in-studio beat-battle with Just Blaze. Notably, Nas and Jada’ are Def Jam artists.

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Swizz added that last month’s “Just In Case,” featuring DMX and Rick Ross, is coming to a music video soon. Elsewhere in the discussion, the hit-maker discussed his art collection, purchasing his dream home, and building a 100-plus acre campus in Upstate New York.