kendrick lamar (COMPLEX, 2012)
May 12 1998
Def Jam Records
Dee & Waah Dean
Irv Gotti (Executive Producer)
The Yonkers, New York MC made some noise in the early ‘90s and in 1992, signed to Columbia Records’ subsidary label Ruffhouse where he released his debut single “Born Loser.” DMX was released from the deal and dropped his second single two years later; a handful of guest verses over the next few years would build a buzz that led to his breakout single “Get At Me Dog.”
“‘Get At Me Dog’ came right in the clef of the golden era shutting down. B.I.G. died, Tupac died, different things,” Dame Grease told
GENIUS IN A RECENT INTERVIEW. “The last song of that era is ‘If You Think I’m Jiggy’ by The L.O.X, which was the last of the flashy songs. And then the next song was the bring it back to the streets gutter, was
‘Get At Me Dog.’”
The song was released on Def Jam Recordings and was quickly
certified Gold; his debut album IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT dropped on May 12, 1998.
“We were trying to have shock value. That was what was important for us,” Tina Davis, head of A&R at Def Jam from 1996 to 2004, told THE FADER. “DMX kind of had his own vision of what he wanted to do and we just made it happen for him. We allowed them to tell us what they had in mind and we just improvised on it.”
DMX’s IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT sold 251,000 copies first week; his second album of the year, FLESH OF MY FLESH, BLOOD OF MY BLOOD, came in with a whopping 670,000 units first week—just 11,000 units under the highest first-week album sales of the year, Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty.
IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT debuted atop the Billboard 200 in May and was certified Platinum by June.
Wiz kHalifa (complex, 2011)
THE FIRST WEEK
“The story of IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT wasn’t the sales, because multi-platinum albums were commonplace back then; rather, it was the content. Here was a rapper bucking all trends, not aiming for airplay nor wowing with witticisms. The only thing DMX was selling was himself—every dark corner of his mind, every crime he'd committed, every hard lesson he’d learned. He was a jailhouse poet spitting street corner philosophy, and it worked.
X’s tug of war with the light and the dark is heard throughout the album. Songs like ‘Look Thru My Eyes,’ ‘Let Me Fly’ and ‘X is Coming,’ are haunting odes to the demons tearing Earl Simmons apart from within. On ‘Damien,’ X is goaded into a series of bad decisions by an ill-intentioned guardian angel; on “The Convo,” he talks to God directly, confesing it is He whom he must thank for everything, including the bad things.”
— Paul Cantor, (URBAN LEGENDS, 2018)
It was 1998.
A year dominated by Puff Daddy, Bad Boy Records, and the
shiny suit era of the late ‘90s hip-hop world.
gunplay (COMPLEX, 2012)
JANET JACKSON, “Together Again” (Jan. 31)
USHER, “Nice & Slow” (Feb. 14)
WILL SMITH, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” (Mar. 14)
K-CI & JOJO, “All My Life” (Apr. 4)
NEXT, “Too Close” (Apr. 25)
MARIAH CAREY, “My All” (May 23)
BRANDY & MONICA, “The Boy Is Mine” (Jun. 6)
MONICA, “The First Night” (Oct. 3)
LAURYN HILL, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (Nov. 14)
THE LOX, Money Power & Respect (Jan. 13)
SCARFACE, My Homies (Mar. 3)
GANG STARR, Moment of Truth (Mar. 31)
BIG PUN, Capital Punishment (Apr. 28)
RAWKUS RECORDS, Lyricist Lounge,
Volume One (May 5)
MASTER P, MP Da Last Don (Jun. 2)
N.O.R.E., N.O.R.E. (Jul. 7)
SNOOP DOGG, Da Game Is to Be Sold,
Not to Be Told (Aug. 4)
LAURYN HILL, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Aug. 25)
KURUPT, Kuruption! (Sept. 1)
BIG TYMERS, How You Luv That Vol. 2 (Sept. 22)
JAY-Z, Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (Sept. 29)
OUTKAST, Aquemini (Sept. 29)
BLACKSTAR, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are
Black Star (Sept. 29)
JUVENILE, 400 Degreez (Nov. 3)
BUSTA RHYMES, E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) (Dec. 15)
DMX, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
"HOW'S IT GOIN' DOWN"
Producer: Swizz Beatz
Hot 100 Peak: No. 70
IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT
Nas (Pitchfork, 2013)
"STOP BEING GREEDY"
Producer: P.K., Dame Grease
Hot 100 Peak: No. 79
"IT WAS JUST MY TIME.
i was in my zone."
"That’s the first album that got me writing. I wrote my first lyrics to that album actually, about 13-14... I just got inspired and I started writing, so
that will always be one of my favorite albums."
You can buy DMX’s 'IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT'
on vinyl at the Urban Legends Store HERE.
Photo: Chris Shonting
"he was coming raw with it from the gutter. we needed that at that time. we needed that raw gutterness with hip-hop, and he brought it to us."
David Drake (Complex, 2013)
“When DMX arrived at the beginning of 1998 and brought a grimey, underground feel to the charts, it wasn't a turn backwards. His music, like Puffy's before it, felt so impactful because of how dynamic it was, relative to the cassette tape-warped flatline beats of Real Hip-Hop™ that came before.”
How DMX’s Debut Album Brought Real Rap Back
Stream DMX’s ‘It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot’ Here
Rap & R&B hits that topped
the Hot 100 that year
Other notable album
releases that year
DMX (The Fader, 2016)
IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT didn’t earn any Grammy nominations the following year, which inspired JAY-Z to boycott the ceremony for the next six years. JAY-Z’s sophomore project, VOL. 2… HARD KNOCK LIFE won Best Rap Album that year.
“I had an album called Vol. II. You like that album? And I was nominated for some awards,” he said in 2018 at the GRAMMY SALUTE TO INDUSTRY ICONS AWARDS CEREMONY. “There was another guy. His name was DMX, and he had released two albums the same year, they did like 900,000…
The same year, he had released two albums, and he wasn’t nominated for any Grammys.”
"That was the year DMX took over the world."
then came dmx.
2018. urban legends / universal music group
SITE DESIGN: ROBERT CHA
TOTAL COPIES SOLD
"GET AT ME DOG"
Producer: P.K., Dame Grease
Hot 100 Peak: No. 39
Sample: B.T. Express, "Everything Good to You (Ain't Always Good for You)”
"He was bringing a sound that no one had really heard.
He sounded really hungry on that. My dad actually took it from me because there was
too much cursing on it. But he ended up loving it too so I could still hear it."
No. 1 on
"RUFF RYDERS ANTHEM"
Producer: Swizz Beatz
Hot 100 Peak: No. 93
No. 79 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop