Vado made a name for himself with a colossal run of punchline-heavy mixtapes and riding shotgun with Harlem’s champ, Cam’ron. The buzz was so heavy that he declined XXL’s offer to be a freshman in 2011, and he went on to sign with arguably the biggest label in rap—Interscope. So where is the happy ending? And more importantly, where was the music?

No matter, the Harlemite is finally back with the third installment of his Slime Flu series. The real question is, with an ADD generation of Rap fans and a revolving door of new artists, can Vado pick up where he left off?

Vado addresses his absence right from the jump and several times after. From “Awards” to “No Turning Back,” the spitter starts re-marking his territory with a barrage of punchlines, proclamations of his return (or disdain for his competition) in hook-form, and that signature shout-flow that sits comfortably over loud production (araabMUZIK, Stoopid on da Beat). It’s a formula that’s been working for Vado and a good way to let fans know, nothing’s changed.

But things can get repetitive.

For example, “Get Mine” is verse that’s meant to be conversational but it gets stale pretty quickly, especially over a snoozer beat. Then there’s “Bad Bitches,” a song that features the seemingly never-ending hook, “Bad bitches everywhere, bad bitches everywhere, bad bitches everywhere, bad bitches everywhere.” You get it. We’ve heard Vado in his club banger mode (“Speaking In Tungs”), so this just feels lazy. And what’s with all the Roc-a-fella-themed punchlines?

As far as features, Vado keeps things Harlem for the most part and the chemistry is there. On “Full Clip,” Vado links with Dipset-alum JR Writer and they both attack a piano-driven track cold as NYC winters. JR also spits one of the hardest lines on the mixtape with, “You couldn’t move me with a Martin Luther King speech.” Woo! Another notable collaboration is “You Ain’t Good” with Chinx Drugs providing an easy-going contrast to Vado’s intensity that may convince you that these two need to do a whole album.

Slime Flu 3 is a solid mixtape. But at a time when most mixtapes feel like albums, Vado should step it up. If he were to craft more gems like the mixtape closer “When I Die,” a mixture of vivid storytelling and simplistic, yet deeply engaging hook-writing, there’s no reason Vado can’t get his spot back, and then some.

DX Consensus: “Just a Mixtape”

Listen to “Slime Flu 3” by Vado