In the days after DMX’s death from a heart attack last month, several people close to the veteran rapper said that he recently had completed a new studio album, and details have begun to emerge about the release, which drops in two weeks, on May 28, via Ruff Ryders and Def Jam Recordings, the home of his most successful recordings, with whom he signed a new deal in 2019. The new album shares its name with DMX’s son Exodus Simmons.
A source tells Variety that guests on the album include Jay-Z, Nas, Bono of U2 (on a song called “Skyscrapers”), Usher (on the closing track “Letter to My Son”), Buffalo rap combo Griselda (on “Shady Blues”) and Alicia Keys. Lil Wayne, the Lox and Snoop Dogg are also rumored to be involved but unconfirmed. Sources also say that Pop Smoke collaboration was planned for the album but dropped at the last minute; a song called “X Moves” released online last month — a collaboration with the bizarre combination of musicians P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins, Yes guitarist Steve Howe and Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice — also will not appear on the album.
It is unclear whether “Been to War,” a song from the Epix TV series “Godfather of Harlem” that also features Swizz and French Montana released a week after DMX’s death on April 9, will appear on the album.
DMX’s longtime friend and collaborator Swizz Beatz, who executive produced the album, talked with Variety about him earlier this month.
“There was no one like him, and never will be,” he says, before referring to X by his real name. “Earl Simmons was, and is, my brother. Still my best friend. A great father. A great philanthropist. There are a lot of people who shadow his shortcoming and hard goings, but, I’ve seen way more light than dark, knowing him for real. He was the most giving, caring person I know. He would give people anything they needed, be it prayers, clothes or money, before he took any for himself.”
He called their recent collaborations “masterful,” and noted that “Exodus” had been completed before they began recording “Been to War,” a song from the Epix TV series “Godfather of Harlem” also featuring Swizz and French Montana. “Been to War” was released a week after DMX’s death on April 9.
“We finished the album, and then started working on another new song for ‘The Godfather of Harlem,” soundtrack,” he says.
“If I’m not mistaken that was the last vocal he recorded. He was excited to do it which is why we let it come out early. Forest Whitaker, everybody from the ‘Godfather’ team and the network, loved the song and wanted it to come out immediately.”
The song opened the show’s first episode of season two, with the entire season “dedicated to my brother,” notes Swizz. “That was huge for D and his fans.”
Swizz also spoke about DMX’s Verzuz face-off with Snoop Dogg last summer, which remains one of the series’ most-popular episodes, and that it had primed the rapper to begin working on new music.
“He was so happy after doing that Verzuz with Snoop Dogg, and getting back into music-making mode, that he wanted to get his messages out there, to the people, and have some fun too.”
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