NEW YORK — DMX was reunited with his musical family on Monday night when he took center stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Celebrating the Tuesday release of his new Grand Champ LP by giving his first Big Apple performance in years, he received assistance from almost his entire Ruff Ryders family, in addition to LL Cool J, Stephanie Mills, Redman, Method Man and Sisqó.
Before the Dog made his entrance to the stage, his Double R crew mate and DJ for the night, Swizz Beatz, made the crowd nervous when he announced that DMX couldn’t make it to the show because the police had held him up. It was obvious, however, that Swizz’s statement was all part of the act when X came out soon after and was welcomed with cheers.
X informed the audience that he was in the place to be, shouting, “Bring it!” for his first selection, “We Right Here.”
Then, to the dismay of his fans, X got serious when he told them that, in fact, he actually wouldn’t be there for much longer, reiterating that Grand Champ is his last album. He asked the fans if they’d still have the same love for him when he stops rapping. They responded by clapping loudly.
Legendary vocalist Stephanie Mills then came out to perform “When I’m Nothing” from X’s The Great Depression LP. Mills, who came to prominence in the ’80s with a string of timeless R&B cuts before delving into gospel music, showed no signs of rust as she danced along with X and belted out the chorus with her renowned pipes.
“What you gonna do when I’m nothing?” X shouted. “You’re crazy about my styyyllle/ What you gonna do when I’m nothing?/ Tell me nowww … Tell me, tell me!”
X briefly brought the show to a halt when he walked over to the left side of the stage after noticing something on the floor. He picked it up with the tips of his fingers and revealed to the onlookers that it was a thong somebody threw at him. With half a smile, he threw it back at the spectators.
The King of Thongs, Sisqó, fresh from his recent run-in with the law (see “Sisqo Accused Of Shooting At Car, Resisting Arrest” ) and sporting black and blond cornrows, almost ran into DMX when he did his slide onto the stage at the start of “What These Bitches Want.” “What these bitches want from a n—a?” X asked as Sisqó did the monastery dance and crooned the hook.
The LOX’s Jadakiss will never be mistaken for a crooner, but he too had the whole ballroom singing along with him. Later in the show, he and his group added to the list of surprise guests (they included Drag-On on “No Love 4 Me” and performed their posse cut “Mighty D-Block (2 Guns Up)” with their protégé J-Hood).
“Everywhere we go-oh,” Kiss sang, kicking off the underground scorcher. “People wanna know-oh/ Whooo we arrre/ So we tell them/ This is D-Block/ Mighty, mighty D-Block.” Before their new clique’s anthem, the LOX joined X to perform the Double R classic collaboration, “Money, Power, Respect.”
X’s joint ventures proved to be the highlights of the night as he jumped on the “4,3,2,1″ track with Redman, Method Man and LL Cool J. J momentarily stole the spotlight as he received the loudest roar of the whole night. The building actually seemed to shake a little as the “G.O.A.T.” began rapping his famous Canibus dis verse.
Of course DMX had more than enough solo cuts — “Get at Me Dog,” the “Ruff Ryders Anthem” and “It’s All Good” — to keep his following pleased. And at the end of “Party Up (Up in Here),” the Hammerstein crowd gave him a hearty send-off, for what might very well be his last New York show. They shouted “DMX! DMX! DMX!” as if he were Roman gladiator who had just slain a ferocious lion.
X is headed overseas for a European tour that starts on September 26 and when he returns to the States, his representatives say he’ll launch a U.S. tour. The lineup for his domestic tour is yet to be determined.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.