After recording five LPs that he considers championship-caliber, hip-hop's human canine has deemed himself worthy to be likened to the highest pedigree of dog, a Grand Champ.
The streets will decide when the LP drops on September 9, but while listening to the album, it's clear that X doesn't care what anybody thinks. In his heart he knows that he's still rap's most compelling MC on the mic.
"Shot Down" is still awaiting a verse by LOX member Styles before it's complete, but X has already recorded vocals with 50 Cent.
"I'm a G-Unit soldier boy," 50 melodically brags over bass that sounds like bubbling water. "Some say I'm gangsta, some say I'm crazy/ If you ask me, I'm what the 'hood made me," he later rhymes in his verse.
After threatening all who oppose him, 50 continues to warn wankstas.
"If you don't live that, you shouldn't say that," he hisses on the chorus. "What comes out your mouth will get you shot down."
In DMX's verse, the Yonkers MC is upset because there's "nothing but a handful of men still standin' " in the rap game. Darkman also relives his early days as an MC when he and 50 would rhyme in ciphers with Onyx.
While X and 50 shared mutual associates back in the days, they also harbor ill will toward a common enemy in the rap game today, Ja Rule. On Grand Champ, X finally releases the long-anticipated dis record toward his former friend.
"You done f---ed up," DMX starts. He then calls Ja his "son" because he feels Rule borrowed from his rap style.
"I'm the type of father that'll give a kid a toy," he continues. "Put my foot in his ass if he's a boy." X also questions Ja's sexuality and chastises him for "cheating the fans" and making fans "think New York is soft."
DMX shows a softer, less jagged side of himself as he contemplates on "The Rain." He continually sings amidst bass and violins, "Now I know only I can stop the rain." Among the aspirations he expresses is a desire to find peace with the Lord and the ability to determine wrong and right without an inner struggle.
"I wanna be able to walk out of my front door without worrying about running in conflict with the law," he barks.
X is at his most vulnerable on "A' Yo Kato," which is a tribute to his recently murdered friend Kato.
DMX shot the video for "A' Yo Kato" and "Where the Hood At" on July 11 in his hometown of Yonkers. "Where the Hood At" relies on X's performance and then segues into "Kato." In that clip, X reflects on his relationship with his homie.
X is done recording his portions of Grand Champ and he is waiting for two of his guest stars to get in the booth in the next few days so the album can be complete. Eve is slated to rap on "We're Back" along with Jadakiss, while Patti LaBelle will bring her legendary voice to "Thanks You."
One number that will not be making the cut is the long-discussed rock track "Here I Come," a Rick Rubin-produced song featuring Bazaar Royale and Audioslave. No reason was given by DMX's camp.