150 Pop Stars' Real Names
EARL SIMMONS (a.k.a. DMX)

Two weeks after finishing a seven-month prison sentence, DMX tells Billboard.com that he's been working "nonstop, every day" on his seventh album, which he hopes to put out before December.

"I kind of took it back to how I felt on my first album -- the hunger, the energy, the hardness of it," says the 40-year-old rapper (real name: Earl Simmons), who was released from prison on July 19.

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DMX began recording the new full-length, which will reportedly be called "Redemption of the Beast," before being arrested in November for violating the terms of his probation. Producers like Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease and Caviar have contributed beats to the album, although the rapper says that he has mostly been at the studio laying down rhymes by himself.

"I've had a lot of late nights in the studio, getting it in, getting it back to where it's supposed to be," says DMX, whose last album, 2006's "Year of the Dog… Again," has sold 344,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The rapper also notes that the lyrical focus of the album will be "bringing hip-hop back to where it's supposed to be. It's not at a good place right now… [There's] a lot of whack rappers out there. It's too corny."

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When asked about the rumors that he will link up with Rick Ross' recently rejuvenated Maybach Music Group, DMX says, "That remains to be seen." The rapper also says that he is "still in the negotiation process" over a reality show that would delve into the rapper's family life.

"It's about bringing all my kids together," DMX says of the show. "I got 10 kids, from New York to California. It'll show another side of me, the father that I am."

Regardless of what happens with the reality show, DMX is happy to be home after dozens of legal run-ins, and have time to focus on reconnecting with the hip-hop community. "The first time around, it was given to me. Now, I'm working for it," he says. "There's definitely a difference in what I'm gonna give, and what I'm gonna get out."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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