You just know upon one look at the slapped-together packaging and brief track list that this is going to be one step above a bootleg at best. And boy, is it ever.
Excerpted from a half-hour DMX set at the San Bernadino stop of Cypress Hill's Smoke Out tour, there couldn't be a worse way to fathom capturing Earl Simmons' gritty intensity.
One big question is why they chose to release a show filmed during the pouring rain, as not only are the showers distracting while they wash across the cameras, but they clearly suck energy out of the sardine-can-tight crowd.
Granted, there are highlights, but mostly of the unintentional kind: X encouraging a largely white audience to chant "Fuck y'all niggas," and the presence of your token, superfluous hypeman rambling nonsense as if X couldn't handle himself on the stage. Then again, since he raps over what's clearly his own voice on the DJ's records, maybe he does.
Most absurdly, the set list more or less sucks, with only hits "Where the Hood At" or "Party Up" coming remotely close to triumphing over the sterility of X's overall performance and the always mudane, MC-rhyming-live-over-pre-recorded-beats routine.
Video: It is presented in widescreen, but aside from that unexpected perk, jarring camera angles, the aforementioned rainstorm, and constant, blinding glare from the spotlights all over the place (the set takes place outdoors and at night...oy) make it less than a pleasure to endure visually.
Audio: Dolby 2.1 and 5.0 and DTS options are available, but again, if you really need to hear X rhyme live to pre-recorded versions of his weakest tracks with the aid/hinderance of a subpar hypeman, then you probably need better taste in hip-hop.
A lame, lame, lame excuse for extras. "DMX speaks" is really just minute-long (at best) snippets of X backstage talking about things like his favorite rappers.
Then there's "4:20," an excruciating montage of Smoke Out participants, such as Papa Roach and Xzibit, waxing poetic on the notorious pot-smoking time. Do people really still set their weed-inhaling clocks to that once they're older than 18? Christ.
Listen, this was put together with little thought or care for the consumer, and is merely looking to cash in on both the popularity of the Smoked Out tour and DMX's chart-topping reputation. You're a total sucker if you spend any money on this.