Could it be true? After 2001's disappointing The Great Depression, there's an almost Vegas-like grandiosity to Grand Champ, an upping of the ante that feels like DMX has gathered his strength for one more gutter roar. And six albums is a long time to maintain the over-the-top intensity that's been his trademark, especially since he's been making essentially the same record -- about the struggle for his gangsta soul -- over and over, with only the outcome in doubt.
The resolution here might appear proof that X really has nothing left to say. He still claims to be Satan's spawn on "Get It on the Floor," but by the string-soaked "The Rain," he seems worn out by the deadly lie of keeping it real -- "I wanna be able to walk out my front door/Without worryin' about comin' in conflict with the law" -- and on the manic gospel of "Thank You," with Patti LaBelle wailing in the background, he dedicates his howl to Jesus with an air of finality. If that's it -- don't bet on it -- then the Champ at least bows out with a bite to match his bark.