“It’s not worth the headache,” says DMX, when approached the question about would-be rappers coming into the game. “It‘s a business. Don‘t go there looking for friends. [Label executives] smile in your face, and stab you right in the back.”

Those are harsh words from a cat, err, dog who’s had so much success in the business. But that’s exactly how X is feeling these days. Four multi-platinum plaques and 14 million records sold can’t help him anymore. The industry has stressed dude the hell out. And he’s calling it quits…No, really.

“My soul is weighed heavy upon,” continues DMX, during a recent stop on a tour promoting his just-released book, E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. “My soul is abused daily.” And X isn’t talking about all of the smoking and drinking he does either. The man simply wants out of the game before he hurts himself, or, worst yet, hurts somebody else.

Did somebody say Ja Rule? DMX sure didn’t. In fact, the mere mention of the raspy-rapping, Murder Inc.-repping MC gives Earl Simmons hives. But why all the hate? Aren’t there enough dollars, XXL covers and Billboard spots to go around? Well, D can probably sum up the mess best: “Fuck Ja Rule!”

Okay, maybe not. But two hot-off-the-presses sources–E.A.R.L. and his upcoming (and last?) CD, It’s Not A Game–certainly should. “I’m not going to give you no bullshit,” exclaims X. “Honesty. I spit the truth.” E.A.R.L.’s writer Smokey D. Fontaine seconds the Dark Man’s words: “[The book] speaks for itself. Forget 8 Mile. We got “800 Mile” right here.”

Hold on, Smokey. Don’t go bringing Eminem into this. With book tours, beefs with Ja and promotions for his 2003 action flick Cradle To The Grave, DMX has plenty to deal with already.