Xzibit, Loud (2000)
“Make no mistake, I’m the golden state heavyweight/Being underrated gave me time to create,” raps Xzibit on his third album, Restless. True, he’s been putting in work for years, from dropping two critically acclaimed albums to touring with everyone from Limp Bizkit to Pennywise, all the while garnering accolades for his dense, rambunctious raps. The arrival of Restless should finally bring him the recognition he deserves. Musically, it’s his most consistent, casting aside the varied production styles of his past efforts in favor of a thumping, forest-crushing bass stomp masterminded by Dr. Dre. West Coast veterans like Mel-Man, Sir Jinx, Battlecat, Soopafly, and DJ Quik share time behind the boards alongside Rockwilder, Erick Sermon, and former Roots keyboardist Scott Storch. Their combined results add up to a joint made for clubs and car stereos, a nonstop parade of bangers patterned after Dre’s 2001 template. Birthed in the afterglow of a resurgent West Coast gangsta ethos, Restless sounds like an hour-long victory lap. Xzibit knows he’s about to get ”extra large” like the “Paparazzi” he once castigated. “So it’s me against the world, ain’t got shit to lose/Got the heavy artillery to make the masses move,” he raps on “U Know,” a buttery collabo with Dr. Dre. Concurrently, there’s none of the pathos and yearning that marked At the Speed of Life and 40 Days, 40 Nights. Even “Sorry I’m Away So Much,” a pairing with Suga Free and DJ Quik that finds Xzibit addressing his son, swings as smoothly as Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us,” carefully sidestepping the reflective longing that made his 1996 tribute to fatherhood, “The Foundation,” so powerful. No song illustrates Xzibit’s newfound invincibility better than “Don’t Approach Me,” a duet with Eminem. While Xzibit rattles off a familiar string of laments about the fast life (“I feel like Tony Soprano/Who do I trust now?”), Slim Shady frankly discusses his criminal charges, as well as his wife Kim’s suicide attempt. “And you wonder why I carry every gun under the sun/Whether it’s unloaded, full, or an unregistered one,” he raps. Then, after blurring the lines between tabloid fodder and real-life drama, he ends the song: “It’s not that I don’t like you/It’s just that when I’m not behind the mic, I’m a person who’s just like you.” Eminem and Xzibit, of course, are two very different MCs – one uses his life to illustrate societal ills, while the other throws down nasty similes that burrow beneath one’s skin. Heads, however, who have followed Xzibit’s career to this hard-earned epiphany will remember that he, too, once demonstrated a knack for observation and self-awareness. Those qualities would have made Restless something more than a glossy, Billboard-bound hit. Loud, with distribution by Red Distribution.