It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

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It's Dark and Hell is Hot
Studio album by DMX
Released May 19, 1998
Recorded 1997-98
New Horizon Sounds Studio, Inc.
Capitol Heights, Maryland
Power House Studios, Soundtrack Studios, Chung King Studios, Quad Recording Studios
New York City, New York
Genre East Coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop
Length 65:10
Label Ruff Ryders, Def Jam
Producer Dame Grease, Irv Gotti, P.K., Swizz Beatz
DMX chronology
Unleashed & Unreleased
It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
Singles from It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  1. "Get at Me Dog"
    Released: February 10, 1998
  2. "Stop Being Greedy"
    Released: March 7, 1998
  3. "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"
    Released: May 5, 1998
  4. "How's It Goin' Down"
    Released: June 9, 1998

It's Dark and Hell is Hot is the debut album of American rapper DMX, released May 19, 1998 on Ruff Ryders Entertainment and Def Jam Recordings.[1] The album featured four singles with music videos, "Get at Me Dog", "Stop Being Greedy", "How's It Goin' Down" and the "Ruff Ryders Anthem". The album is widely considered a classic by numerous hip hop fans and critics.[2]



Before the album was released, DMX collaborated with producers Irv Gotti, P.K., Dame Grease, and Swizz Beatz. Each producer utilized their particular style while creating the album's instrumentals. It's Dark and Hell Is Hot features Gothic instrumentals created mostly by P.K.; DMX raps mostly about violence. DMX is commonly known for his rough voice; "dog barks" and "dog growls" are featured throughout the album. Many of the songs on It's Dark and Hell Is Hot are made up of dark beats and harsh lyrics, showing anticipation of violence. Compared to aggressive songs like "Intro", tracks like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem", "How's It Goin' Down" have a lighter theme and delivery. The album also features more introspective tracks including "Let Me Fly", "For My Dogs", and others. "Damien" is a deal with the devil style story, with characters voiced by DMX showing DMX meeting a persuasive being who introduces himself as "Damien" and who proposes Dmx to participate in committing violent crimes in exchange for wealth and fame.

Lyrical themes[edit]

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is known for featuring very extreme lyrics about violence with songs like "Intro","X Is Coming", and a lot more. The album is still known for DMX's painful past life when he was younger which is known on "Look Thru My Eyes" and "Let Me Fly". More topics are included like love, rage, stories, and God. Unlike many hip hop albums DMX features prayers which are dialogues with him and God.

Rolling Stone critic, Miles Marshall Lewis, talked about the lyrics in "X-Is Coming" and he quoted these lines from the song: "If you got a daughter older than fifteen, I'm a rape her/Take her on the living-room floor, right there in fronta you/Then ask you seriously, 'What you wanna do?'" In his response for his reaction to the extreme violent writing ability of DMX, he answered: "Even within the context of a hardcore rap album, DMX goes beyond the pale."[3] Some of DMX's most-violent lyrics, inspired by horror, crime, and hardcore rap created a style that would dominate a portion of the rap industry. The earliest examples of these lyrics would be the unreleased songs "Gotti Style" (Featuring Ja Rule), "Read About It" (Featuring Ja Rule), many unreleased freestyles, and his verse on Mic Geronimo's 1995 song "Time To Build" with appearances by an early Jay-Z and Ja Rule.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (choice cut)[5]
The Daily Vault A-[6]
Entertainment Weekly C[7]
Q 4/5 stars[8]
RapReviews (8/10)[9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[3]
The Source 4/5 stars[8]
Spin (6/10)[8]
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[10]

Critic reviews were largely positive. AllMusic commented that "Unlike so many other hardcore rappers who are more rhetorical than physical, DMX commands an aggressive aura without even speaking a word."[4] Leading Hip Hop magazine The Source described the album as "a mind-gripping opus that fully encompasses the appeal of one of rap's newest sensations."[8] Referred to as one of the best debut rap albums, critics called the album a necessary introduction to one of the greatest hardcore rappers in hip-hop.[citation needed] DMX was praised for his imagery, stories and lyricism.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Producers Featured Guest(s) Time Sample(s)
1 "Intro" Irv Gotti and Lil' Rob 4:09
  • Contains a sample of "Beyond Forever", as performed by Mtume
  • Contains audio excerpts from the film "Tales from the Hood"
2 "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" Swizz Beatz 3:34
3 "Fuckin' wit' D" P.K., Dame Grease (add.) 2:18
  • Contains a sample of "Shifting Gears", as performed by John Hammond
  • Contains a sample of "Rockin' for My Hometown", as performed by K-Solo
4 "The Storm (Skit)" Dame Grease, P.K. 1:00
5 "Look Thru My Eyes" P.K. Dame Grease (co.) 3:50
6 "Get at Me Dog" Dame Grease, P.K. (add.) Sheek Louch 4:03
  • Contains a sample of "Get The Bozack", as performed by EPMD
  • Contains a sample of "Everything Good To You (Ain't Always Good For You)", as performed by B.T. Express
  • Contains a sample of "Will They Die 4 U?", as performed by Mase featuring Puff Daddy and Lil' Kim
7 "Let Me Fly" Dame Grease, Young Lord (add.) 4:12
  • Contains a sample of "Lo Dudo", as performed by José José
8 "X-Is Coming" P.K. 4:18
  • Contains an interpolation of A Nightmare on Elm Street's jump rope song.
9 "Damien" Dame Grease 3:42
10 "How's It Goin' Down" P.K. Faith Evans 4:42
11 "Mickey (Skit)" P.K. 0:25
12 "Crime Story" Irv Gotti and Lil' Rob 3:47
  • Contains a sample of "Easin In", as performed by Edwin Starr
13 "Stop Being Greedy" P.K., Dame Grease (add.) 3:37
14 "ATF" Dame Grease 1:56
15 "For My Dogs" Dame Grease Drag-On, Big Stan, Loose & Kasino 4:11
16 "I Can Feel It" Dame Grease Nardo (Uncredited) 4:12
17 "Prayer (Skit)" Dame Grease 2:32
18 "The Convo" Dame Grease 3:33
  • Contains a sample of "Nights on Broadway", as performed by The Bee Gees
19 "Niggaz Done Started Something" Dame Grease The L.O.X. & Mase 5:09
  • (add.) - Denotes additional producer.
  • (co.) - Denotes co-producer.

Chart and commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at #1 on The Billboard 200, and sold 251,000 copies in its first week.[11] It was certified 4x Platinum by RIAA on December 18, 2000.[12]

Chart (1998) Peak
Canadian Albums Chart 15
US Billboard 200 1
US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DMX - discographyallmusic. Accessed October 25, 2008.
  2. ^ Henry Adaso DMX on 'Top 50 MCs of Our Time' Accessed October 26, 2008
  3. ^ a b "DMX". Archived from the original on 2 October 2007. 
  4. ^ a b AllMusic review AllMusic
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: DMX". Robert Christgau. 
  6. ^ "The Daily Vault Music Reviews :". 
  7. ^ "It's Dark and Hell is Hot - Music Review - Entertainment Weekly". Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Dmx - It's Dark and Hell Is Hot CD". 
  9. ^ " Feature for January 28, 2003 - DMX's "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot"". 
  10. ^ Yahoo! Music review[dead link]
  11. ^ 22 Ends DMX's Billboard Winning StreakMTV. Accessed February 20, 2009.
  12. ^ DMX gold&platinum dataRIAA. Accessed October 26, 2008