Many of DMX's conversations with God have been a matter of public record since his career bloomed to superstar status in 1998. His catalog features nearly as many inspirational ghetto hymns — such as "Lord Give Me a Sign," "A Minute for Your Son" and "The Prayer" — as it does party anthems and street-corner knockers, and in 2006 he pondered changing his name for "spiritual reasons." But now, the Dog has decided to go in full-throttle with his first-ever gospel-rap album, which he told MTV News will be coming out this year.
"I [was] the first n---a to put out two albums in one year [It's Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood in 1998], now I'm gonna hit 'em again — drop two albums on the same f---in' day, yo," X said from his home in Arizona on Friday. "A double album will make mutha----as mad, because they gotta spend more money — plus it's already a long [double] album. I'm talking about a hip-hop album and a gospel album."
Combined, the project will be called Walk With Me Now and You'll Fly With Me Later.
"The same title is gonna be on both albums, but on one album one part [of the title] is gonna be [highlighted]," he clarified, and on "the other album, the other name is gonna be [highlighted]."
The Walk With Me Now portion will be dedicated to straight-up, raw raps, while the latter will feature his non-secular undertaking.
As for the gospel album, X noted that the lyrics will be "without cursing — how 'bout that one? No songs about b----es, no songs about robbing, just straight 'Give God the glory.' "
He wasn't quite as talkative when asked why he decided to put out a gospel album now. "Destiny, I guess," he replied. "I just go with the flow."
During a hiatus from hip-hop a few years ago, X said he contemplated leaving music altogether to become a minister, but decided to return to the mic. On Walk With Me Now and You'll Fly With Me Later, he said he'll be working with a variety of producers, from the familiar to the unknown.
"It's a mix," he said. "I got my own dogs banging out tracks. Of course, I'm gonna feed my pups, but it's always gonna be Swizz [Beatz], PK, [Dame] Grease. It's always gonna be that. Real talk."
The albums don't yet have a set release date, but the enigmatic and energetic MC said he's planning to have them out within the next few months. He recently inked a deal with the independent label Bodog Music to release the project. Bodog is probably best known for its online gambling division, but it has also gotten into promoting mixed-martial-arts fights and other ventures.
"It's gonna be real big," Dark Man X said of his new deal. "I got the right amount of money I need. The thing about these big record labels is that they give you a whole bunch of money just so they can take it back from you. Then you don't even own your own sh--. I need to own my sh--, son. [Bodog] got enough money to do what I need to do and I'm good. They got more than enough promotion, they got other sh-- I can bridge off into. Not soft drinks, I'm not talking about sneakers — I'm talking about fights!"
Another big fight, according to X, was his brief stint on Columbia Records. After he left Def Jam, in 2006 he signed a multi-album deal with Sony — his original stomping ground. (The label had signed X in the early '90s but only released an underground single.) Airings of a BET reality show called "DMX: Soul of a Man" preceded the August 2006 release of Year of the Dog, Again (the original Year of the Dog was supposed to come out on Def Jam, but X abandoned the album over creative differences), but X said his time at Sony was doomed almost from the start.
"Sabotage!" he howled. "Sony turned out to be phony." He pointed to what he described as a mishandled rollout of his first single, "We in Here," and an unauthorized A&R call on another potential single, "Dog Love," as two debacles.
"The second single was gonna be 'Dog Love,' " he said. "It was supposed to be three different broads on the hook: Amerie, Keyshia Cole and my artist Shan. Each one was gonna have their own hook. [Sony] put Amerie on there and left [everybody else out]. [Editor's note: Janyce also appears on the song.] They f---ed my whole sh-- up!
"I had five #1-debuting records in a row," he continued. "[Year of the Dog, Again] was supposed to be number six. [Sony] released another record the same day they released mine, the Now [That's What I Call Music!] CD. They let the sh-- beat me by 1,000 [Editor's note: SoundScan figures show Now! 22 selling approximately 127,000 CDs that week while X's album came in just shy of 126,000 copies.] And they didn't tell me until after the week was up."
DMX's former rep at Columbia was unavailable for comment at press time.