After repeated run-ins with the law and a switch from Def Jam to Sony Urban, veteran rapper DMX returns this week with his latest album, "Year of the Dog ... Again."

After repeated run-ins with the law and a switch from Def Jam to Sony Urban, veteran rapper DMX returns this week with his latest album, "Year of the Dog ... Again." First single "Lord Give Me a Sign" was produced by Scott Storch. DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, also brought back his Ruff Ryder cohort Swizz Beatz to produce some tracks.

"Year of the Dog, Again" will be the follow-up to 2003's "Grand Champ," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 1.1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The artist recalls that in 2003, he reached a personal crossroads. His DMX side was fed up with the business. "I either wanted to kill someone, or myself," he says. After releasing "Grand Champ" and promoting his box-office smash "Cradle 2 the Grave," he announced that he would devote himself to his spirituality. Earl wanted to become a preacher. Simmons sighs and points a finger to the sky. "Problem is, I never heard the call," he says.

To be sure, hip-hop has changed in the past three years and Simmons considers today's gangster/bling rhymes vapid. "It's music I wouldn't even let my 13-year-old son listen to," he says. "It's not real. No one is saying anything. It's not rap, it's crap. There is no soul. I refuse to conform."

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