DMX – “Party Up (Up in Here)”

Released: 6.6.00

Peak: #27

Look, we can jaw about knee-jerk misogyny and retrograde anti-social stances all day, but the real beef with gangstas, thugs, and smugglers is they’re just not funny enough. The street-corner snickers with which meatheads kill idle time often lack even adolescent charm, and camouflaging that foolishness with some au courant beat or even a twisted flow is all formalist window-dressing. And so, even more impressive than the consistency with which rabid Yonkers beatboxer-turned-MC consistently made life as DMX sound like an authentic, existential irritation is the high caliber of the cold-blooded punch lines with which he battled back. Sure “Get at Me Dawg” and “Stop Being Greedy” reclaimed canine ferocity from show poodles like Snoop, but it’s the short-fused hilarity of hits like “What’s My Name?” (“I’M NOT A/ NICE/ PERSON!”) (has any MC spit lyrics that so consistently demanded all caps?) that won me over.

As certified winner of the post-Pac black-male-rage sweepstakes, DMX was integral in instituting hardcore rap alongside metal and pro wrestling as a go-to coping device for hormone-befogged teen boys. True, the late-90s tough-guy pack was mostly flaccid, with the jiggy’s platinum potential almost irresistibly tempting and the mantle of transcendent rage defaulting to nu-metal crybabies and Master P’s limitless goons. X wasn’t wholly without competition–he huffed and puffed his way into 2000 neck and vein-bulging neck with No Limit escapee Mystikal. In fact, each blowhard grew more interesting the further he strayed from g cliché, each nurtured a fury that seemed to transcend mere persona, and each needed a playful production style to bring out his best.

Still, as gonzo as the (yet forthcoming) Neptunes JB2K could be, I’ll take “Party Up (Up in Here)” over “Shake Ya Ass,” and not just ’cause X picks on mutts his own size. “Party Up” is Swizz Beats’ stadium-jam organ and ref-whistles at their most manic and toonish, even dipping into a “Buffalo Gals” tweak at the end. And X’s pent-up aggression doesn’t duck behind some ghetto-got-me-crazy sociopolitical dodge here. Instead he blusters with Big Man get-off-my-dick frustration, barking at losers I’m nearly convinced deserve their potentially violent deaths. “Listen, yo ass is about to be missin’/ You know who gon find you?/ Some old man fishin’.”–yeah! Fuck that dude! And affixing an “Up in here/ Up in here” to any declarative statement for emphasis remains an almost “Wassup?!!”-level pleasure.

Now for the career epitaph. With Aaliyah playing the caring moll on “Come Back in One Piece,” X evinced a three-dimensional potential he never followed up on. By the end of the decade he was roid raging at flight attendants, impersonating feds, and seeking spiritual advice from Mase. And yet, he was sprung from the joint for good behavior, and he’s currently training in Mixed Martial Arts. Which, I suppose, still puts him in slightly better position than Mystikal.

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Comments

  • Craig B  On January 25, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Jesus! How much did this video cost!?

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