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It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is the debut album of rapper DMX, released May 19, 1998 on Def Jam subsidary Ruff Ryders Records. The album featured 4 popular singles with music videos, "Get at Me Dog", "Stop Being Greedy", "How's It Goin' Down" and the "Ruff Ryders Anthem". The album is widely considered a hip hop classic by numerous hip hop fans, mainly due to its revitalization of the hardcore rap mainstream scene, after Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Entertainment briefly dominated the charts with their pop-orientated and sample-reliant songs. It debuted at #1 on The Billboard 200, and was certified 4x platinum on December 18, 2000.



Before the album was coming out DMX had Irv Gotti, PK, Dame Grease, and Swizz Beatz as his producers. Each producers had their own music style while creating instrumentals for the album. It's Dark and Hell Is Hot usually features Horrorcore influenced instrumentals and it was created mostly by PK with DMX rapping mostly about violence. Compared to most rappers, DMX is usually known for his rare, rough, tough voice when he is rapping on songs. DMX also features "dog barks" and "dog growls" on some songs. The album is also very different compared to other DMX's album considering his most gothic album by the producers' instrumentals. Majority of the songs on It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is usually focused on dark beats with harsh lyrics and showing anticipation of violence. Songs like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem", "How's It Goin' Down" shows a different background compared to his aggressive songs like "Intro" and the album even feautures more introspective or less harsher side with tracks like "Let Me Fly", "For My Dogs", and more.

Lyrical themes

The lyrics of It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is known for featuring very extreme lyrics about violence with songs like "Intro","X-Is Coming", and a lot more. The album is still know for DMX's painful past life when he was more younger which is known on "Look Thru My Eyes" and "Let Me Fly". More topics are included like love, rage, stories, and God. Unlike many hip hop albums DMX features prayers which are dialogues with him and God. Rolling Stone critic, Miles Marshall Lewis, talked about the lyrics in "X-Is Coming" and he quoted these lines from the song: "If you got a daughter older than fifteen, I'm a rape her/Take her on the living-room floor, right there in fronta you/Then ask you seriously, 'What you wanna do?'". In his response for his reaction to the extreme violent writing ability of DMX, he answered: "Even within the context of a hardcore rap album, DMX goes beyond the pale."


The album has gained a commercial for selling more than 6 million copies worldwide and it was mostly known as a very brutal hip hop album by most professional critics. Allmusic states: "Unlike so many other hardcore rappers who are more rhetorical than physical, DMX commands an aggressive aura without even speaking a word." was astonished of DMX's delivery and rapping and states it: "The music flows perfectly, with little to no redundancy. This is an excellent trait, and something more hip-hop albums should feature." More professional reviewers also describe It's Dark and Hell Is Hot as a very extreme album for Hip Hop: ...."IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT is a mind-gripping opus that fully encompasses the appeal of one of rap's newest sensations" - The Source, "A psychotic concept album that celebrates bloody style over creative substance" - Spin. Hip hop fans and DMX fans consider It's Dark and Hell Is Hot as a classic and it's known for DMX featuring his most discourteous lyrics and being at his best. The album sold 251,000 copies in its first week.

Track listing

# Title Producers Featured Guest(s) Time Sample(s)
1 "Intro" Irv Gotti and Lil' Rob 4:09 • Contains a sample of "Beyond Forever", as performed by Mtume
• Contains audio excerpts from the film "Tales from the Hood"
2 "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" Swizz Beatz 3:34
3 "Fuckin' wit' D" P.K. and Dame Grease 2:18 • Contains a sample of "Shifting Gears", as performed by John Hammond
4 "The Storm (Skit)" 1:00
5 "Look thru My Eyes" P.K. and Dame Grease 3:50
6 "Get at Me Dog" Dame Grease and P.K Sheek of The L.O.X. 4:03
• Contains a sample of "Everything Good To You (Ain't Always Good For You)", as performed by B.T. Express
• Contains a sample of "Will They Die 4 U?", as performed by Mase featuring Puff Daddy and Lil' Kim
7 "Let Me Fly" Dame Grease and Young Lord 4:12
• Contains a sample of "Lo Dudo", as performed by Jose Jose
8 "X-Is Coming" P.K. 4:18
• Contains a sample of theme song "Freddy's Coming For You"
9 "Damien" Dame Grease 3:42
10 "How's It Goin' Down" P.K. 4:42
11 "Mickey" (Skit) 0:25
12 "Crime Story" Irv Gotti and Lil' Rob 3:47
• Contains a sample of "Easin In", as performed by Edwin Starr
13 "Stop Being Greedy" P.K. and Dame Grease 3:37
• Contains a sample of "My Hero Is a Gun", as performed by Diana Ross
14 "ATF" Dame Grease 1:56
15 "For My Dogs" Dame Grease Drag-On, Big Stan, Loose & Kasino 4:12
16 "I Can Feel It" Dame Grease Nardo 4:13
• Contains a sample of "In The Air Tonight", as performed by Phil Collins
17 "Prayer (Skit)" 2:31
18 "The Convo" Dame Grease 3:33
• Contains a sample of "Nights on Broadway", as performed by The Bee Gees
19 "Niggaz Done Started Something" Dame Grease The L.O.X. & Mase 5:09
* "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" [Live] (German Bonus Track) Swizz Beatz 2:57


Chart (1998) Peak
Canada Albums Chart 15
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1
United World Chart Top 40 Album -

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