D?M?X?and my dogs bite!

What do you say about a brotha who has the name of a dog tattoed on his back, close to three million records sold of a debut album, and the hottest sound and image on the street? You'd call that man DMX. ?One Love Boomer' the tat reads, shoulder to shoulder, It's Dark And Hell Is Hot is the first effort still in Billboard's top twenty, and kids around the world are growling, barking, rhyming in short bursts of rough ghetto energy, anything to imitate an artist they would have no problem calling hero.

And now he has a new album. For an unprepared public, this game started less than a year ago when a deep-throated, bandana-wearing brotha started spittin' hot shit on cuts like LL Cool J's ?4,3,2,1? and Mic Geronimo's ?Usual Suspects.? Then came two unforgettable verses: the first on Mase's ?24 Hrs. To Live;? the second on The Lox's anthem ?Money, Power, Respect,? a sixteen bar ball of fire that DMX said he wrote ?a couple of years ago.? It was the perfect artistic set-up for a game that was coming out of Puff Daddy's self-proclaimed ?Hammer era? into a harder, more broken-bottle, strife laden world where heart, credibility, strength, and attitude meant just as much as brightest suit or hottest girl. Heads were ready for tales of real life, stories of struggle and survival, pain and the ability to get by, the kind of urban tales DMX had always thrived at. ?I think society is finally ready to deal with reality,? DMX said last February, a few days before his first album was to drop, ?so for that reason I ain't got no choice but to blow!? And blow up he did. Worldwide. ?Get At Me Dog? was the song that did it, a spit-fire piece of uncompromising aggression that became the universal anthem of hood life, months before labelmate Jay Z called anybody's life hard knock.