Photos courtesy of Xphaqtor

DMX finally returned to the stage on Wednesday night (August 31), one of the first shows the troubled rapper performed for fans since returning home from seven-month jail stint for a probation violation last July.

And Dark Man X sure made up for lost time. The Yonkers-native headlined a packed house of Houston’s House of Blues giving concertgoers an raw, energetic set.

X hit the stage like a whirling dervish dressed in jeans, t-shirt, Timberland boots, two dangling chains and shades immediately diving into his hits “We Right Here” followed by “Who We Be” from the 2001 LP, The Great Depression, all the while showcasing his signature bark and staccato flow.

There was a misstep by the DJ on the next track, prompting the 40-year old embattled MC to threaten him with an ass whooping. Instead he used the break to tell the audience that he only messes with two rappers: Nas and H-town legend, Scarface. On cue, the Geto Boys’ frontman—who was also recently released from jail, for several unpaid child support cases—parted the sea of goons, hangers-on and onlookers in the background to share center stage with the Dog.

“This man’s music on The Last Of A Dying Breed got me through Aaliyah’s death,” X said then proceeded to take a picture with ’Face with a screaming throng behind them. “I don’t fuck with too many rap niggas, but in my book, he's a general!”

As he reignited the multitude with the incendiary banger, “Ruff Ryders' Anthem,” from his major label debut, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, X became part mesmerizing car wreck and part symphony orchestra on stage, displaying the dichotomy fans have come to expect during the last decade: stark lucidity interspersed with head scratching incoherence. His Ruff Ryders motorcycle crew, front and center, handed him a logo embossed leather vest, which he wore backwards a la Kriss Kross during the second half of the song.

Next, the Dog took a bottle of Hennessey that had been on stage like a mic stand and passed it around to the fans near the stage, instructing them to “sip and pass.”

Satisfied that his fans were along for the ride, X launched into his discography of hits, including the song that started it all, “Get At Me Dog,” "X Gon' Give It To Ya," memorable guest 16’s from “Money, Power, Respect,” “Touch It” and his own club classic, “Get It On The Floor.”

Then X’s shirt came off. Shirtless and aiming for the ladies in the crowd like a guided missile, X served up “How’s It Goin’ Down” and "What These Bitches Want," jumping off into the crowd and flowing acapella for those women lucky enough to be near the pit.

Briefly, X rapped lines from a yet to be released new song tentatively titled “Sucker for Love” but then jumped back to “Where The Hood At” and “Party Up (Up in Here).”

X dealt with a disgruntled female fan who’d been yelling for his shirt, towel or anything that remotely touched his body since he took off his shirt by telling her she was “next up on Jerry Springer” before giving her a sweat-dripped towel.

“I don’t come up here to rap,” X said. “I come up here to touch. I come up here to reach. I come up here to teach. I come up here to preach.”

The lights then went down and lighters were held aloft for “Slippin’ “ before DMX brought Scarface back out to help close out his 90-minute set with a prayer. Before offering up a simple message about God being masterful, Brad Jordan thanked the fans for holding him down while in jail and promised some kind of reunion with the Geto Boys. And with that, X performed his new prayer that will appear on his upcoming album, thanked the fans for their support and exited stage left. —Maurice Bobb