Picks and Pans Review: DMX

updated 08/21/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Year of the Dog ... Again

Despite a string of five No. 1 albums, DMX, in the midst of a creative slump, had supposedly hung up his mike after 2003's Grand Champ. On his growling latest, the unretired rapper demonstrates that he remains one of hip-hop's top dogs. A study in contrasts, DMX is alternately animalistic and introspective, misogynistic and thuggishly romantic. He goes from street bangers like "I Run S---" to steeple-raisers like "Lord Give Me a Sign." And while he may not always have the best beats or the best lyrics, he delivers it all with the fiery spirit of a Baptist preacher.

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