DMX is barking again. Despite a tumultuous couple of years, which found the Yonkers-bred rapper in and out of court and prison for a string of drug, theft and animal cruelty charges, the one-time Def Jam star seems more focused than he’s been in years.

Before jumping on stage at last night’s (September 23) VH1 Hip Hop Honors, to perform “Party Up (Up In Here),” XXLMag.com spoke to X about the Ruff Ryders reunion, getting back in the studio with longtime producer Swizz Beatz and his love for Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons.

As previously reported VH1 did a retrospective of Def Jam’s storied 25 years in the rap business during yesterday's 6th annual Hip Hop Honors in Brooklyn. And X has nothing but good things to say about former label head Russell Simmons. “Russell’s a good brother,” he said. “[He] calls every once in a while to check on me [to] make sure I’m all right. I appreciate everything he's done. Russ I love you baby.”

While the Dog didn’t offer too many details about his much anticipated reunion album with the Ruff Ryders, he says they have already been in the studio and recorded new tracks.

As far as getting back into the booth with Swizzy, X says it felt “like it always was.” When asked what he thinks of Swizz’s new sound, X responded, It’s supposed to [change], it’s still hot. He’s got some hot shit. You can’t have the same sound.” [Watch Below]

As of press time there is no release date on either the Ruff Ryders reunion disc or X’s new solo album. -Elan Mancini with reporting by Jesse Gissen

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