Grand Champ

DMX is up to his old tricks on "Grand Champ." The ferocious Yonkers, N.Y., native unleashes another set (his fifth) of high-octane street anthems and soulful songs of regret.

DMX is up to his old tricks on "Grand Champ." The ferocious Yonkers, N.Y., native unleashes another set (his fifth) of high-octane street anthems and soulful songs of regret. Lead single "Where the Hood At?" is classic DMX—from the call-and-response hook to the anthemic backbeat. On "Dogs Out," the rapper reignites his rivalry with Ja Rule over a grimy Kanye West-produced beat. Unfortunately, what should have been the album's most promising track, "Shot Down," misses the mark with mundane production; featuring 50 Cent and Styles P, the all-star lineup is given little to work with but makes the most of the situation with piercing lyrics. DMX shows his softer side with songs like the gospel-influenced "Thank You," featuring Patti LaBelle, and the Monica duet "Don't Gotta Go Home." With X eyeing retirement, it looks as though he will be going out on top, thanks to "Grand Champ."—RH