Over the last few years, DMX has too often been in the headlines for what he's done outside of music, rather than for the essence of why he became a household name in the first place. And it's not in the way Will Smith's name gets recognized for his non-musical pursuits. No, for X, it's been posts on TMZ highlighting his run ins with the law, child support money he owed, and Waffle House floors he mopped up. Steadily, though, he's been showing signs of a return to music, between the trickling out of a few new songs, collaborations with up and comers like MGK and Los, and now his new EP, The Weigh In.

For his first full body of work in over half a decade, DMX has the same core principles behind his music with this release. The first half of the project feels something like a vintage taste an aspect of what was so endearing about the Yonkers rapper when he first emerged: X serves up passionate and heartfelt bars of angst and vulnerability, delivered through his gravely vocals. "Where I Wanna Be," featuring Big Stan, offers a glimpse of the Dog trying to find his way, complimenting a melodic, piano-driven beat with throwback bars like, "My life has a meaning, my life has a purpose/No matter how dark it gets, I knew that it was worth it." Next, X gets with Snoop Dogg for "Shit Don't Change," a Dr. Dre beat previously used by Snoop for "Boss Life," and then rides solo "On The Frontline," using a cut once tackled by Drake on Comeback Season.

He returns on these tracks with a similar hunger and passion as earlier in his career, though the punches don't land as quite solidly as they used to. It's after this first batch of cuts, however, when things begin to slide. "Where My Dogs At" is an attempt at the energetic anthem formula that helped DMX first shine, but his own fire doesn't seem to be blazing as strong after these years, and it shows. A little later, "That's My Baby," featuring Tyrese, comes off both outdated and unnatural.

On this 11-track release, there are just over 20 minutes of music, with six songs and five skits/interludes. It becomes choppy, as one song doesn't flow into the next. Still, even though DMX doesn't recapture the magic of the beginning of his career with The Weigh In, the veteran MC shows signs that he still possesses many of the traits that initially made listeners gravitate towards his music. Hopefully he can better package them together on his upcoming album, Undisputed. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)