“Where the Hood At?” by DMX
“Where the Hood At?” starts off with an intro where DMX is lambasting “n*g*as” who think he fell off. During the turn of the century X was by far one of the hottest rappers in the game, with all four of albums leading up to this one having been Billboard 200 chart toppers.
But still, as noted he had his doubters. And he is letting such individuals know, in the most-offensive way possible, that he is in fact back on the scene. And apparently he is compelled to do so as he took a couple of years off between his last album, “The Great Depression” (2001) and this one, “Grand Champ” (2003).
“Where the Hood At?”
Meanwhile the chorus centers on him asking, as the title indicates, “where the ‘hood at”? The word “hood”, as used in this context, is actually an abbreviation of ‘neighborhood’, or even more specifically we can say ‘ghetto’.
More contextually, what said question centers on is the idea of the rapper calling for his homeys from the ‘hood, who are thugs like himself, to back him up. And the reason he is doing so is because there’s some “n*g*as acting up”, i.e. other dudes behaving unruly, on the scene.
So the implication is that said individuals will be dealt with violently by DMX and his entourage. Indeed X advises his own opps that if they go as far as to in fact “pull” a gun on him and his, that they “better bust” it, as in actually shoot, as opposed to drawing it just for show. For even though it is never spoken, if they fake a move like that they’d likely end up getting shot themselves.
So even before diving into any verses, we already see where this song is going.
And verily, the first verse features similar disses and threats. In this particular passage DMX really has in it for “homo thugs” – for instance criminals who have been feminized while incarcerated. And whereas some people have labeled such observations as being homophobic, X is not really attacking homosexuals per se, even though he does question the rationale of one man “f–king”, as in having sex, with another. Rather he is more specifically calling out dudes who act tough – manly if you will – but are in fact effeminate.
Also concerning the aforementioned “homo thug” statement, it has been put forth that such is actually a jab against fellow superstar rapper Ja Rule, a former friend of X’s who was his enemy during this juncture of history.
But all of that being noted, it’s not like DMX would spare an upstart because he’s heterosexual, as illustrated in the rest of the song. Rather it can be said that he simply does not understand gays nor has any type of real respect for them.
The second verse features even more references to gun play, this time with no homosexuals being involved. Also whereas DMX does utilize some metaphors to get his point across – that if you f–k with him and his homeys you’re as good as dead – let’s just say that he doesn’t rely on clever wording too much.
Rather he’s more of a direct-to-the-point kind of rapper, even using sound effects such as “blam blam” to imitate the sound of gun fire. And near the end of the passage, he elaborates that this track is actually a dedication to his “dogs”, i.e. his ride-or-die homeys, the same ones whom he is calling out in the title of the song.
But the third verse is more metaphorical than the second. And this time around, it seems that the vocalist is addressing specific opponents, those whom he feels in real life are trying to start drama with him. And well, by this point we’re sure you already know how he responds to such individuals – with more death threats of course.
But there is one really interesting line in the third verse whereas, while levying a diss, X comes off as a bit of a homosexual himself. It is speculated that said line, where he tells one dude to ‘hold his d-ck’ while another ‘s–ks it’, is yet another insult directed towards Ja Rule and by extension his label boss, Irv Gotti.
And X is apparently once again implying that Ja Rule is gay – one of the ultimate disses in hip-hop, at least back in those days. But let’s just say that whereas such is obviously an insult against the person DMX is aiming these words at, it didn’t quite come out the right way.
The track ultimately concludes with more tough talk. For instance, DMX puts forth that he’s “the only n*g*a”, or let’s say person of his celebrity stature, who can “go to the projects”, i.e. the roughest part of ghetto, by himself yet come out unscathed.
So it’s like he’s hard for real. Indeed he further exclaims that ‘he is the ‘hood’, and ‘he is the streets’ – the personification of thugism, so to speak.
So the lyrics transform from death threats to braggadocio, though the latter in terms of X’s street authenticity. But before closing he also seems to mock rivals going through financial hardship and gives a shoutout to one “Kato”, a gangster friend of his who was murdered in 2003.
Facts about “Where the Hood At?”
This track was produced by the Tuneheadz, a production duo consisting of Eriberio Serrano and Livin’ Proof. And they are also individually credited as writers of the song alongside DMX.
“Where the Hood At?” originally came out on 16 September 2003 as part of DMX’s fifth album. The said album is entitled “Grand Champ”.
This project, which was released by Ruff Ryders Entertainment and Def Jam Records, scored a number one on the Billboard 200 and performed the same on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Additionally it reached number six on the UK Albums Chart. Overall it was a big success, being certified platinum in the US and Canada.
And in November of 2003 “Where the Hood At” also served as the second and final single from the album.
Achievements of “Where the Hood At?”
On its own, “Where the Hood At?” peaked at number 4 on the UK R&B Chart and broke the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart. And stateside it appeared on three Billboard listings, faring most impressively on the Hot Rap Singles ranking, where it reached a peak position of number 13.
And just to note, the song also charted in Germany. By virtue of its success, it went on to be featured on a few of DMX’s greatest hits’ albums.
This DMX hit also made headlines in 2016 when Bernie Sanders, who was running for the Democratic ticket of that year’s US Presidential elections, utilized it during a rally he held in California.
And it garnered some attention again in 2020 when DMX used it in his Verzuz battle against Snoop Dogg, complete with the original ‘homophobic’ lyrics.
Additionally this track made its way onto a couple of videogames, namely 2005’s True Crime: New York City and 2006’s 25 to Life.
The music video to this track features regular DMX collaborator Swizz Beatz and X’s Ruff Ryders’ labelmate, Drag-On. It also contains two other hip-hop artists originating from New York City, Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe.
And the second half of the video incorporates another track from “Grand Champ” entitled “A’Yo Kato”. The said track serves as a memorial to the aforementioned Rudy “Kato” Rangel Jr. (1972-2003).