Though it's DMX
's third album in two years, ...And Then There Was X
doesn't show much sign of burnout. True, it's similar to his last, which balanced new-school gangsta tracks ("The Professional," "Make a Move") with a couple that question the inevitable trappings that come with success ("Fame," "One More Road to Cross"). And the productions by Swizz Beats, P. Killer Trackz, and Shok -- all part of Ruff Ryder Productions, Inc. -- are heavily synthesized and occasionally melodramatic, just like both of his previous albums. Even when Swizz Beats' usually reliable productions fall through, DMX
brings it all back with his tough rhymes and inventive wordplay. He's still torn between the thug life and spiritual concerns (even including a long prayer in the liner notes), but the most exciting tracks on ...And Then There Was X
are good-time joints like "Party Up" and "What's My Name?"