DMX Year of the Dog… Again

Earl Simmons (aka DMX) used to embody the dark demons alive in all of us. Drug addiction, repeated incarceration and a falling out with Def Jam (and Jay-Z) left the dog with his tail between his legs. Very little of Year of the Dog… Again matches the intensity of his debut, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot. "I Run Shit” tries awful hard but loses thrust before its peak. Swizz Beatz handles four tracks, but dance floor ready ditties like "We In Here” are a far cry from the rowdy, prison riot beats that caught the attention of DMX’s hardcore audience. Like Lindsay Lohan before him, he’s tired of addressing his questionable actions and lets the world know on the heavy metal-tinged "Wrong or Right (I’m Tired),” made more irritating by BZR Royale’s terrible verse. Scott Storch drops two beats, one of which ("Give’Em What They Want”) is a welcome rehash of "Lean Back” with DMX at his best. Sadly, he’s more bark than bite these days. On wax, he’s not the man he used to be, but he sticks to formula and for some that’s good enough. (Columbia)