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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
9/30/2003 7:31:04 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include DMX and Obie Trice.

The Washington Post today gave their thoughts on DMX's Grand Champ and Obie Trice's Cheers. See what ya think: They titled the article 'From Growl to Purr'.

Hip-hop has long been a safe haven for two-dimensional alpha males, but few rappers have perfected the persona the way DMX has. Over five albums, he's proven to be only a little more complex than your average pro wrestling antihero.

But, as might be expected, that approach breeds fierce fan loyalty: All of DMX's discs, including the typically rowdy "Grand Champ," have debuted at No. 1 on the album charts. If anything, he sells a kind of philosophical purity that even pro wrestling can't match: If it's a fight, DMX is probably in it. Man-on-man? Indeed. Dog-on-dog? Hell, yeah. Man-on-woman? If justifiable. Man-on-dog? Probably not. Even DMX wouldn't hurt a dog.

The biggest victim on "Grand Champ," however, is DMX's gruff, lone-wolf rap persona. The man born Earl Simmons says he's ditching hip-hop to focus on his kids, the Bible and whatever gigs Hollywood gives him. The fatigue isn't too obvious -- tracks such as "Bring the Noize" and "Where the Hood At" are as raucous as his past hits -- but he calls in far more reinforcements than usual.

"Grand Champ" features 18 credited cameos, including an appearance by 50 Cent on the cartoonishly menacing "Shot Down," which was hyped this summer as the latest salvo in DMX's long-running (and tiresome) beef with the more romance-oriented Ja Rule. The version that appears on "Grand Champ," could be about anybody, though.

The final third of the disc is where DMX really takes on the aura of a semi-retired pugilist. "The Rain" is essentially a gangsta psalm; "Thank You" (with Patti LaBelle) sounds like a Kirk Franklin song on steroids; and "Don't Gotta Go Home" (with Monica) treads directly on Ja Rule's sensitive-thug turf. It makes sense that DMX would hold back such vulnerability for the end of his (ostensibly) final disc -- fully exploring those feelings too soon could've ruined the franchise.

Obie Trice: 'Cheers'

Obie Trice's young career has a pro-wrestling feel, too, but for different reasons. Like so many rap hitmakers (and wrestling hit men), the Detroit-based Trice seems to have materialized out of nowhere as a fully formed character. It doesn't hurt that the rap game's best story man is on his side.

Eminem, as a beatmaker, guest MC and executive producer, is the undeniable force behind Trice's debut, "Cheers," and the disc accordingly offers teeter-tottering beats, catchy choruses, and lyrics that tumble forward with near-rhyme, assonance and alliteration. Trice has enough charisma to hold his own at times, but after a while it's easy to wonder how much of "Cheers" belongs to him alone.

Consider the oddball party track "Got Some Teeth," which might be the funniest thing Eminem has touched since the knee-slappers on his own debut. As average-guy Trice beer-goggles barflies ("She's model material, but she got a venereal / Tons of baby-fathers, baby bottles and cereal") and the beat bubbles underneath, the silly specter of Slim Shady is obviously pulling strings.

Dr. Dre, never one to miss a golden opportunity, also has his hands all over "Cheers." He gets credit for producing four tracks, with the sparse "The Set Up" outpacing the rest, while such heavy hitters as Timbaland, Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent drop in elsewhere.

After 17 tracks of image-crafting and hand-holding, Trice emerges as a solid second-string talent -- something to fill the void while his mentors calculate their next moves.

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