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.
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." 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."
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.Nas reminisced in 2013, “that was the year DMX took over the world."