In Brief

** DMX, “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot,” Def Jam. Revered for recent high-profile collaborations with LL Cool J, Mase and the LOX, DMX fails to meet the expectations generated by those teamings. The Yonkers, N.Y., rapper suffers from frequently listless production that hardly matches the intensity of his seething, maniacal rants. While DMX barks and growls about his street escapades, many of the soundscapes purr rather than roar.

** 1/2 Soulja Slim, “Give It 2 ‘Em Raw,” No Limit/Priority. The New Orleans rapper’s debut taps tried-and-true street topics--braggadocio and don’t-mess-with-me warnings are about as deep as Slim treads. Like most of the other releases from Master P’s label, the best songs feature other artists. The squeaky-voiced Mia X foils Slim splendidly on two songs, and Master P appears on five of the 20 cuts, adding his signature moans and groans to an album that revels in its rawness.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

Hear the Music

* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times’ World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: clips