This album came from a result of many different factors. X was going at it with Def Jam over owed royalties. He was at odds with his former friend turned foes Ja Rule and Irv Gotti, He was getting arrested more and still had one foot in the door of Hollywood. Plus the game has done two 380s since X dropped his last album The Great Depression.
His adversary Ja Rule came on his own and became a superstar in his own right. It ushered the commercial wave back into the culture and guys whom came from the prospective of street rappers had to adapt to the Murder Inc sound to compete. But in 2003, another shift occurred and Ja Rule’s adversary 50 Cent came into the game like a juggernaut and brought hip hop back to the hood.
If this wasn’t the best opportunity for DMX to return, This was the moment. He returned in grimy fashion with the album’s street single “Where’s the Hood At” taking aim at fake industry thugs and “homo thugs”. This track was vintage X. Aggressive energy, brash content, and the visual of dog fights and motorcycles in the videos similar to their early videos.
Grand Champ has X staying true to what he does best. Between baring his soul of his everyday battles with his demons on The Rain, Thank You with the legendary Patti Labelle and A’Yo Kato which is a tribute to a fallen friend from Chicago. X’s fearlessness to bare his heart and soul is what made so many people connect with him
X also knew how to make club songs that won’t too pop savvy or too sugar fluff, Get it on the Floor is another of the gruff club bangers that X was known to make. This one along with X Gonna Give it 2 Ya goes in line with Party Up, What’s My Name, Get at Me Dog and Ruff Ryders anthem.
The best track on here no question features X alongside 50 Cent(whom was on top of the world at that time) and Styles P. X wanted to show and prove that he wasn’t trying to be outshined on his own track and actually laid down the hardest verse of the three. Jadakiss and Eve sounded like they were bringing it back to 99 on We’re Back which was a Ruff Ryders reunion track.
Grand Champ suffers from some filler due to production not being album to meet X’s aggression. But it was a clear step up from The Great Depression which suffered from a conflict of interest and the beginning of X locking horns with Def Jam. This album here sounds more focused lyrically and he stayed true to his base. Definitely worth checking!
Vic Rating: 8 outta 10