It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

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It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 19, 1998 (1998-05-19)
RecordedSeptember 1996–January 1998
DMX chronology
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 studio album by American rapper DMX. It was released on May 19, 1998,[2]by Ruff Ryders and Def Jam.[3] It was supported by four singles—"Get at Me Dog", "Stop Being Greedy", "Ruff Ryders Anthem" and "How's It Goin' Down", in order of release—and their accompanying music videos.

It primarily includes production from Dame Grease (13 tracks) and PK (8 tracks), in addition to production from Irv Gotti and Lil Rob (2 tracks), Younglord (1 track; add.), and Swizz Beatz (1 track). The album is widely considered a classic among hip hop fans and critics.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[5]
Entertainment WeeklyC[6]
Los Angeles Times2/4 stars[7]
Muzik3/5 stars[8]
Q4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
The Source4/5[12]

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot was met with positive reviews from music critics. 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."[5] 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."[12]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and sold 251,000 copies in its first week in the United States.[14] The album was certified 4x Multi-Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on December 18, 2000.[15]


Andrew R. Chow from TIME Magazine published a article about the album on the day of DMX's passing (April 9th, 2021) saying, "Then 27-year-old Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, released his debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, and everything changed. The album was full of violent nihilism, hair-raising tales of betrayal and revenge, and his emulations of dogs barking and whining; the beats were rugged and skeletal. Rather than being rejected or pigeonholed, the album immediately skyrocketed to the top of the charts, selling 251,000 copies in its first week in the U.S as songs like “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” rang out of every car stereo in New York City and beyond." He also wrote the album was catalyst for American producer Swizz Beatz's career and influenced artists later on like American rapper Denzel Curry, who listed it as one of his favorite albums.[16] Nas reminisced in 2013, “that was the year DMX took over the world."[17]

Drake interpolated “How’s It Going Down” on his 2016 song “U With Me". He personally asked DMX for his permission.[16]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
2."Ruff Ryders' Anthem"
Swizz Beatz3:34
3."Fuckin' wit' D"
4."The Storm (skit)"
  • Simmons
  • Blackman
  • Fields
  • Joaquin Dean
  • Mad Man
  • Dame Grease
  • PK
  • Waah (add.)
  • Mad Man (add.)
5."Look Thru My Eyes"
  • Simmons
  • Fields
  • Blackman
  • PK
  • Dame Grease (co.)
6."Get At Me Dog" (featuring Sheek Louch)
  • Dame Grease
  • PK (add.)
7."Let Me Fly"
8."X-Is Coming"
  • Simmons
  • Fields
  • Simmons
  • Blackman
Dame Grease3:42
10."How's It Goin' Down"
  • Simmons
  • Fields
11."Mickey (skit)"
  • Simmons
  • Fields
  • J. Dean
  • Rajah Winn
12."Crime Story"
  • Irv Gotti
  • Lil Rob
13."Stop Being Greedy"
  • PK
  • Dame Grease (add.)
  • Simmons
  • Blackman
Dame Grease1:56
15."For My Dogs" (featuring Big Stan, Loose, Kasino and Drag-On)
Dame Grease4:11
16."I Can Feel It"
Dame Grease4:13
17."Prayer (skit)"SimmonsDame Grease2:32
18."The Convo"
  • Simmons
  • Blackman
  • Barry Alan Gibb
  • Maurice Ernest Gibb
  • Robin Hugh Gibb
  • Ed Penney
  • Jerry Gillespie
Dame Grease3:34
19."Niggaz Done Started Something" (featuring The Lox and Mase)Dame Grease5:14
Total length:1:05:15
2000 reissue bonus track
20."Ruff Ryders' Anthem" (Live)
  • Simmons
  • K. Dean
Swizz Beatz2:57
Total length:1:08:12
  • Track listing and credits from album booklet.
  • "X-Is Coming" features additional vocals by Jamie, Warren and Randy.
  • "How's It Goin' Down" features additional vocals by Lovey Ford and Schamika Grant.
  • "I Can Feel It" features additional vocals by Nardo.
Sample credits

Chart positions[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[27] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". Q. No. 167. August 2000. p. 124.
  2. ^ May 19, Sidney MaddenPublished; 2016. "Today in Hip-Hop: DMX Drops 'It's Dark and Hell Is Hot' Album - XXL". XXL Mag. Retrieved May 12, 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "DMX | Biography, Albums, & Streaming Radio". AllMusic. December 18, 1970. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987 - 2007)". Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Birchmeier, Jason. "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot – DMX". AllMusic. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  6. ^ Mukherjee, Tiarra (July 17, 1998). "It's Dark and Hell is Hot". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  7. ^ Baker, Soren (May 31, 1998). "DMX, 'It's Dark and Hell Is Hot,' Def Jam". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  8. ^ McPhail, Pete (August 1998). "Cam'ron: Confessions of Fire / Charli Baltimore: Ice / DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". Muzik. No. 39. p. 63.
  9. ^ Pearce, Sheldon (March 5, 2017). "DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Lewis, Miles Marshall (June 18, 1998). "DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Ex, Kris (2004). "DMX". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 248. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ a b "DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". The Source. No. 106. July 1998. p. 151.
  13. ^ Gonzales, Michael A. (August 1998). "DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot". Spin. Vol. 14 no. 8. p. 143. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  14. ^ "Now! 22 Ends DMX's Billboard Winning Streak". MTV. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  15. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - December 18, 2015". RIAA. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "How DMX's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot Changed the Course of Hip-Hop Forever". Time. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  17. ^ "Nas". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  18. ^ "DMX Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  20. ^ "DMX Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  21. ^ "DMX Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  22. ^ " – DMX – It's Dark and Hell Is Hot" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  23. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1998". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  24. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1998". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  25. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1999". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  26. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1999". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "Canadian album certifications – DMX – IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT". Music Canada.
  28. ^ "British album certifications – DMX – IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  29. ^ "American album certifications – DMX – IT'S DARK AND HELL IS HOT". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 20, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.