Months before his April death, New York rap legend DMX was talking about a new, feature-packed album. That album, Exodus, was nearly complete upon the rapper’s death, and after finishing touches from producer and friend Swizz Beatz, it’s out now. The album is DMX’s eighth, and his first on Def Jam since 2003’s Grand Champ. Nearly every track on Exodus has a feature, from fellow New York icons like Jay-Z, Nas, and the LOX to other rap giants like Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg to up-and-comers like the Griselda Crew and Moneybagg Yo to singers like Bono, Alicia Keys, and Usher (and a Marvin Gaye sample on top of it all). “He never really rocked with features like that, and he was just like, ‘I wanna change that up,’” Swizz remembered in a May 24 listening session with press. “And he was like, ‘I don’t have to do so many verses.’ So he was being slick too,” the rapper-producer joked. While DMX originally teased a feature with late New York drill pioneer Pop Smoke, Swizz said Pop’s verse ended up being used elswhere; Swizz said he tapped Moneybagg Yo for a new verse, and that was the only part of the album DMX did not hear before his death.
DMX died on April 9 in White Plains, New York, after a week on life support due to an overdose and heart attack. The Yonkers native, born Earl Simmons, left his mark on the New York rap scene as leader of the Ruff Ryders crew and a solo artist who delivered both swaggering and bleak bars all in his signature raspy voice. Exodus follows DMX’s previous album Undisputed, which came out nearly nine years ago in 2012. Swizz Beatz said the rapper was motivated to work on this album after not having new music to play during his 2020 Verzuz battle with Snoop Dogg, and when younger rappers started reaching out wishing to collaborate following the performance. “X wanted this album to come out, he was excited about it,” Swizz told media. “That’s why we was like, ‘Let the world have it, if that’s what he wanted.’”