Hip-hoppers tend to announce their imminent retirement with a frequency Michael Jordan would envy. The latest one to claim he's hanging up the mic is DMX. Talking to MTV News about his upcoming fifth album, ''It's Not a Game,'' the 32-year-old rapper said, ''That's the truth. It's my last album.''
Not that he won't still be in the game. The Bloodline Records top dog will still oversee his kennel of artists, including Bazaar Royale, Big Stan, and Kashmir. He'll still act in movies, like ''Cradle 2 the Grave,'' which opened at No. 1 last month, and the currently shooting ''Never Die Alone.'' And he'd like to spend more time in church. ''I wanna take some time off -- you know, read my Bible and just get more into the Word.'' After all, he says, family is important to him. ''I got kids, and one of my children is at that stage where you have to be around. He's 8 months, and I don't wanna be a stranger to my children. That's more important to me than all this.''
DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) kept mum on the details of his final recorded opus, which he expects to release this spring. He did say that ''It's Not a Game'' would include a duet with man-of-the-moment 50 Cent. ''He's an individual after my own heart,'' DMX said. ''Once again, hip-hop was getting a little bit too slippery, a little too shiny. So it's good, it's refreshing, to have someone bring it right back to the streets.''