In May of 1998, rapper DMX released his debut album It's Dark and Hell is Hot
. Powered by hit singles "Get at Me Dog" and "Ruff Ryders Anthem," the album entered the Billboard charts in the top slot. In a little over seven months later, the Yonkers MC would achieve the same feat with his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
, making him the first rapper to top the charts twice in the same calendar year. As a matter of fact, DMX's first five albums all debuted atop the Top 100, his sixth narrowly missed, instead landing at number two.
To call DMX a hip-hop superstar would be an understatement. Aside from his music, the rapper born Earl Simmons also forged a path for himself as a formidable actor with roles in notable films such as Exit Wounds
However, for all of his successes, Simmons has not been without his fair share of drug abuse and legal troubles. Most recently, DMX served a year in prison on charges of tax fraud.
With those issues behind him, DMX is out on the road and celebrating his 20 plus years in the business. His It's Dark and Hell is Hot tour made its third-to-last stop at House of Blues in downtown Cleveland.
You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
Anticipation was high, with a line that wrapped around the building onto East 4th St. even after the venue opened its doors. Inside, DJ Walk played a lengthy set of '90s and 2000s hip-hop hits that ran the gamut from West Coast gangsta to down South Southernplayalistic to grimy East Coast.
As the night wore on, the crowd began to get impatient with chants of "We want X" getting louder and louder. The house lights finally dropped, and DMX emerged to the clanging bells of his debut album's opening track, and the cheers of an audience that was rewarded for its patience. The stage featured an elaborate lighting setup and stands adorned with the infamous DMX logo.
Over the course of about an hour, DMX took concertgoers on a trip through his extensive catalogue of hit singles, beginning with "Who We Be" and "Ruff Ryders Anthem." For the latter, X climbed onto a speaker, much to the chagrin to his fans who were rapping along in tow. The energy remained high for most of the set, but amplified even more for tunes "What's My Name" and "What These Bitches Want."
Before performing "Where Da Hood At," DMX gave a shoutout to the Cleveland Police Department and said there was a bomb threat earlier in the night but the person was apprehended. The energy peaked once again for what is perhaps DMX's biggest hit to date in "Party Up" before mellowing out for the solemn and heartfelt autobiographical "Slippin'," which X calls a song for God's warriors. The show closed out with a lengthy and spirited prayer.
For a hip-hop artist nearing 50 years of age, Simmons still has spring in his step and still can move the crowd with the best of them. While some of the concertgoers began to get antsy and agitated, all of that seemed to go out the window after DMX began his set. Perhaps some things are worth waiting for after all.
Other performances from the night came from opening acts 1 Shot Deals and Star God.
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