Xzibit is a businessman. Impressively he has released an album every two years since his 1996 debut ‘At The Speed Of Life’. Since then, the West coast rapper has gone on to host Pimp My Ride whilst squeezing in a couple of movie roles along the way. Despite the allure of the film industry Xzibit has remained true to his Hip Hop roots and in 1999 he launched his own record label, Open Bar Entertainment.
Hit tracks like ‘X’, ‘Mean Mugging’ and ‘Multiply’ have established Xzibit’s place in Hip Hop and reinforced his brand power. However, despite all his successes- Xzibit remains humble, focussed and refreshingly open. With a successful television show, a pretty impressive movie resume and platinum albums under his belt- what more could the rapper / actor Xzibit hope to achieve?
Mr X to the Z talks to Britishhiphop.co.uk about the state of Hip Hop, his world tour and coming full circle.
BHH: On your current album Full Circle, you seem a lot more introspective on some tracks for example on ‘Family Values’ and ‘Thank You’. What prompted you to reveal this side of yourself?
Xzibit: I think as you mature and grow- some people do and some people don’t. For me, my music is a release. So what I’m going through in my life is real. Things I went through as a teenager I wrote it in my music. The things I go through as a man and as a adult I put to the music, so I don’t expect everyone to relate to what I’m saying and doing because not everybody is grown but for me if I can put some kind of reality into my music- what I’m experiencing, somebody out there will be able to relate to it and that’s what being an artist is about.
BHH: What are your feelings on the debate surrounding profanity in Hip Hop; do you think the words ‘bitch’, ‘hoe’ and ‘nigger’, should be removed from lyrics?
Xzibit: I think if you use it in a sense where you have to describe a certain character that you’re dealing with or your telling a story creatively and I do stress the word creatively, instead of using the word over and over until it becomes monotonous. We all know as consumers and as people of culture what good taste and bad taste is. You know when you’re picking up a Hip Hop CD what your listening to -you know what I’m saying. This whole controversy started because these words were not used in this context; they were used in a media outlet with Don Imus and with what he said in his show. So I think as an artist it is hard to censor yourself and to limit yourself but I feel that it is for the artist to censor; not nobody else and Russell Simmons made a lot of money off of those words, so if he gave all his money back then maybe I’ll take it into consideration (laughs).
BHH: Good point. So if internet rumours are correct your next album is called ‘More Than Just A Game’…
Xzibit: Nah, I don’t know where that came from but that’s not true. I’m not recording another record called that and I haven’t even started my new record yet (laughs).
BHH: Where do you get your album titles from- they’re quite interesting?
Xzibit: The first one I had the name At The Speed Of Life, that was something I had been sitting on since I was about thirteen years old. I just really liked that title. Well if you go back and listen to all the records, I say the title of the net record in each one before. There’s all kind of shit that I’ve done in there (laughs) but I’ve connected all my records in one shape, form or another.
BHH: Do you think Hip Hip is in a healthy state at the moment?
Xzibit: Oh no. Hip Hop itself is in a healthy state because that’s underground and that the artists that thrive underground know how to kick it. I think it’s unfair when people say Hip Hop is dead. Commercial rappers are on their death bed. I think that’s good because sometimes you have to let old things whither away and die in order to regenerate and I think once Hip Hop stops becoming so profitable we can sit back and reinvent ourselves.
BHH: But can you see that ever happening- Hip Hop not being profitable?
Xzibit: Well yeah when it becomes not the number one, number two selling music in the world and becomes number four, number six. I think that’s gonna be important because then, why are so many people trying to rap- because there’s money and then what happens when the money goes? Let’s see how many rappers wonna rap then. If it was about the money then I would have stopped a long time ago ‘cause baby I’ve been rapping for ten years and my third album went platinum.
BHH: But rappers do get greedy; you see people like 50 Cent who just want more and more-so when does it stop?
Xzibit: Like you said some people portray themselves as constantly having money because they feel that’s what other people desire and will never achieve but it’s different when you show somebody how to make a living, then you floss your living to somebody else. I think as an artist you are always supposed to thrive and take advantage of every opportunity that you have because you never know if you will have another one. But there’s a difference from flaunting your success and sharing your success.
BHH: So you’re on a world tour at the moment and you’ve been to the UK several times, do you find the reception you receive here different to back home?
Xzibit: Nah it’s the same energy. Every time I come over here I know the audience is gonna be receptive. If you come over here and do a good show then they appreciate it more. Don’t get up there and half arse it, I never do that- then people will wonna see you more.
BHH: You have collaborated with a host of artists, everyone from Dr Dre, Snoop, The Game. Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with or are there any UK artists you would like to hook up with?
Xzibit: I just got up on Klashnekoff yesterday; he got a sick arse beat. I was freestyling over it and I like Roots Manuva. As I go I keep my ear to it, Dizzee’s cool too- he’s up in Grime right?
BHH: (Laughs) right- what do you think of Grime?
Xzibit: I think any type of progression in the music is good. Like the South, it’s all progression in the sound.
BHH: So are you still with Koch Records?
Xzibit: Nah that was just a one off. It was just a convenient place to be at the time, that was just to distribute the record but I’m still signing me! Open Bar Entertainment- I can do what I want, when I want. I know my artist are gonna show up on time, shit I’m good (laughs).
BHH: Finally, what do you do for fun?
Xzibit: I kick it with my son- that’s fun. He’s running track- he does the 400 and 200 sprints very well, the first time he won his 200- I’m sitting there in shock, like what! Yeah that’s fun for me. My sons coming to meet me in Japan, so he’s getting all excited.
Full Circle is out now on Koch Records.
Xzibit will be playing The Astoria London, June 14th.