Xzibit: What You See is What You Get

With seemingly everyone under the sun throwing the word “young” in front of their name or stealing the alias of an old mob boss, one could argue that the originality of rap monikers took a nosedive right along with record sales. If nothing else, you’ve got to give Xzibit credit for picking a name that’s original and actually fits. After all, an exhibit is a public showing—and if being in the rap game for over a decade and being broadcast into millions of homes doesn’t constitute a public showing, what does? Even in its more abbreviated form, “X,” which represents the unknown, the name still works. Think about it, do we really know who Xzibit is?

One minute he’s rattling off one-liners while the rest of the crew at G.A.S. is dropping $50,000 worth of custom accessories on Lawanna’s beat up VW Beetle. Is he the tattooed and khaki-clad Cali resident whose career was almost derailed by an encounter with an empty liquor bottle thrown at the speed of a baseball? Wasn’t he the one on Dr. Dre’s album, or was he lending his vocal assistance to Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister? Yes, yes and yes.

You see, if nothing else, Mr. Alvin Nathaniel Joyner is a businessman. After all, did you really think it was a coincidence that all those expensive flip-down TV’s on Pimp My Ride just so happen to be playing Xzibit videos? X is banking on the fact that everyone will see the picture clearer on October 17, when he drops his sixth studio album, Full Circle. His record label and outlook may have changed, but one thing remains the same. What you see is what you get.

AllHipHop.com: We all remember you coming into the game with King T and Tha’ Alkaholiks. What’s your relationship with your former Likwit Crew partners these days?

Xzibit: I deal with the O.G.; King T is on my new record. As far as I’m concerned he started that whole movement. He’s the one that helped start Tha’ Alkaholiks. That sound started with him and Tha’ Alkaholiks and then E-Swift stepped in and took it to another level. Those were the first guys I knew with record deals. Whatever has been put out in the media as far as them not feeling me or whatever, s**t, that is what it is. I would never say anything negative about my homies, ever. I’m not a dude that talks.

J-Ro moved over to Sweden, I haven’t talked to Rico [Tash] in a minute, and E-Swift is in Los Angeles, I believe. King T comes to kick it, though. I know his family, I know his kids and they all come hang out with me and my kids. I have close contact with King T, and he’s on my record.

AllHipHop.com: Dr. Dre, executive produced your two best selling albums. You’ve been shouted out by 50 Cent and had a cameo in 8 Mile with Eminem. Did you ever consider signing to Aftermath?

Xzibit: You’ve gotta remember, I’ve been doing work with Aftermath and Interscope since the days of “B*tch Please” and The Chronic 2001, so I was never an Aftermath artist, and I never signed to Interscope. There were talks about doing that, but with the label I was on at the time [Sony], I guess negotiations always fell through. My relationship with Dre has always been solid. My work ethic is what led to him asking me to be on Chronic 2001 and be on “B*tch Please” with Snoop. These were all calls that were made by Snoop Dogg and Dre and then that led into the relationship with Marshall and whatnot. If I ever wanted to go over there, that would be the ideal place, but it never happened.

Now, I wouldn’t want to go sign another artist deal. I feel like things I’ve done with them have spoken well and represented for what they were. I learned a lot and I’ve gained a lot from working with those guys and I feel like there’s nothing that can take away from that. I still feel like it’s important for me to stand on my own.

AllHipHop.com: People generally sign to Koch for one of two reasons: a concession that they have a smaller, yet consistently loyal fan base or as a set up for the next major label situation. Which category do you fit in?

Xzibit: I’m actually setting up to make a powerhouse centered around Open Bar Entertainment. Whether that is for a major or if I stay independent, I don’t know. I have to make that decision after we get this record out. For me, it feels better to have the brunt and the majority of work in my hands. It’s more gratifying knowing that the brunt and the majority of the profits are coming back to me.

I know that after ten years in Hip-Hop and being signed to a major, being in that loop and going through that machine, I really now have both the fan base and I still have the music the drive and desire to do [it]. But, the motivation is different, so I’ll probably stay independent.

AllHipHop.com: Did you ever feel that your former label was trying to pigeonhole you based on Pimp My Ride or your relationship with Dre?

Xzibit: Well, see, the thing with Sony is they’re a juggernaut company. What you have to understand is that [Loud] got absorbed into Sony. It’s not like I went over there and that was my ideal place to launch Xzibit. I was only familiar with Nas being on Sony, and I had never heard him say anything positive about Sony. I didn’t know what to expect. You’ve gotta remember, I had just came off of doing Restless, which sold two million out of the gate, that was my best selling record. After that we came with Man vs. Machine and Sony, thinking that they would know what to do. But, you can’t bypass the street. That’s where Xzibit fans were born and bred, and that’s where we failed. Sony knew how to get you from one to five, but they couldn’t get you to that one.

It was just a struggle and growing pains. I had never been in a position like that, and no one expected me to come out and do what I did. After that, it was sink or swim going into the corporate structure of Sony. They [absorbed] Loud and dropped everyone except me and Three-6 Mafia. That was some cold s**t. We had Big Pun, Tha Alkaholiks, Wu-Tang Clan, dead prez—that was the upstart urban label right there. We could have been there and it’s a shame that Loud Records went the way it went. They were on their way to being something and they just had no idea.

AllHipHop.com: Restless seemed easier to promote, it was like a party that we were all invited to, whereas Weapons of Mass Destruction and Man vs. Machine tackled heavier subjects such as the prison system and police brutality. Were those conscious decisions or you just growing as an artist?

Xzibit: Artistically, I try to do different things. You can’t pigeonhole and peg me as one type of MC who only does this. I live in Los Angeles, I was born in Detroit, I’ve lived in Albuquerque, and I’m well traveled. I’ve got a lot of different experiences that I try to relay through my music because I know I’m not unique in these situations. If I can connect with my listener like that, then that’s what’s up man.

Me and my homeboy were talking about it on the bus yesterday. I don’t make Hip-Hop no more; I make “Real-Hop.” There’s too many cats out here that are leading everybody with false perceptions of who they are—they’re taught by the industry. As you can see, our hood is in the trash. I’m not saying that to be preachy, or try to be T.D. Jakes and s**t, but I’ve definitely gotta put a real aspect of life out there for me. The things I talk about in my records are real and the things that I’m going through are real.

Am I the man that I was when I was 19, 20 years old? No. So I’mma tell you how I feel now. That maturity is my strength. I feel like I have the luxury to grow with my audience and they shouldn’t expect the same thing that I did on “Paparazzi” or “Foundation”. Those are things that I felt when I was that age. As I mature, as I grow and expand my horizons and my range, you can grow with me or you can just not be with it at all.

AllHipHop.com: We see that growth on songs like “Black, Brown”, which addresses the ongoing beef between Blacks and Latinos in Southern California. Did the incident from 2003 factor into making that song?

Xzibit: Definitely, man. I got hit with a Jack Daniels bottle and there was no fighting involved. It was just me and this Hispanic guy, and I guess he had a homeboy, but I didn’t see him until the end. He hit me with a [liquor] bottle like it was a f**kin’ baseball, it was about three feet away. At first I thought the dude punched me, but when I turned to say something I started spitting blood and f**kin’ glass down my shirt. There was no punches thrown, I didn’t get jumped and there wasn’t a [brawl], it was just me and him. Dude ran off after he hit me with the bottle and his homeboy came around. I guess he had a pistol, he never pulled it out, he just had his hand on it. He saw what happened, and he ran off too.

So I’m kinda like, “What do you do in that situation,” you know what I’m saying? This s**t is f**ked up. I go to the doctor, and the motherf**ker tells me, “Yo, we don’t know if you’re gonna’ heal or talk again.” That situation could’ve cost me my livelihood. It was a real intense situation, and it could have went one of two ways, ’cause my people were not happy, my n***a. I was in a position where I could either react, or sit back and see what’s going on and then react.

But, the s**t healed up, I found out that it was going to be alright. It healed how it’s gonna heal. I refuse to get plastic surgery, so f**k that. It healed how it healed, and everything’s alright. As you can see, I’ve got a film and television career after the fact. I didn’t lose my life and I didn’t have to react and do something stupid because my pride was hurt. I didn’t go and make a wrong decision out of anger. That’s where that song came from. What I got from the situation was that I was patient and calm. I was like, “Do I need to send somebody to take someone’s life? Do I need to take somebody’s life because I got hit with a bottle? Or, do I need to sit back and see that my life has taken a whole new turn?”

Now, I can do whatever the hell I want to do. That was an experience that I was supposed to learn from and a beautiful song came from it. A bangin’ concept came from it, and now I don’t have [worry] about that. That situation didn’t affect what I do. So, you’ve got to balance those situations out. If that situation had have ended with one of my family members or my son getting hurt, then that’s a reason to really go there. But, for stuff like that, I had to sit back and count the cost.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s end this on a light-hearted note. As the host of Pimp My Ride you have to come correct. Out of your collection, what’s you favorite car and what accessories do you have on it?

Xzibit: I’ve got the new Range Rover Supercharged with a complete strut kit on it. I painted it so that the whole truck is silver and only the windows are black. I put some 22-inch strut rims on it to make it complete. I like a clean look. I’ve got that and I’ve got my Bentley GT, and I just zoom around Los Angeles in those two.

AllHipHop.com: That’s not a bad way to zoom around at all. I’m pretty much set. Do you have any last words or anything for the fans?

Xzibit: October 17th, we’re gonna’ get down with Full Circle, man. I’m hungry. You can hear it in the music and I can’t wait to put this down. It feels like my first record. The motivation is different and I want to push it to the limit.

AllHipHop.com: Well, on behalf of AllHipHop.com I thank you. It was a good one, man.

Xzibit: C’mon, it’s all good man. I bulls**t you not, I really f**k with y’all tight. I really be up on y’all s**t, even the Rumor section. I’ve been up in that motherf**ka a couple of times. I just laugh about ‘em, even if they’re about me—them s**ts is crazy! Tell Illseed, he’s a crazy motherf**ka.

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