Anthony DeCurtis
January 10, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

On …And Then There Was X the explosive DMX bluntly declares ”I do not worship money.” What makes him so compelling is the ravaged grain and electric urgency of his voice — he sounds like a man who, stoked by too much smoke, too little sleep, and too much pressure, is just about to blow.

DMX’s songs are death-obsessed and drenched in religious imagery. For all the mayhem, hottie-chasing, and call-outs to his ”dogs,” he moves in a haunted moral universe. Tracks like ”The Professional” and ”Angel” (on which Regina Belle takes a spectacular turn) document a ravaging spiritual anguish. ”I got something that’s working against/Everything I know is right,” he confesses on ”Angel.” That internal drama lends ”X” a thematic ambition few contemporary rappers even bother to strive for.

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