Since the release of his 1996 debut, At the Speed of Life, rapper and actor Xzibit has had his fair share of ups and downs both within the industry and outside of it. In 2012, he says that is all going to change with the release of his seventh studio album, N#####.
In the five years since his last album, Xzibit, born Alvin Nathaniel Joiner, has spread his talents across multiple industries, including film, television, and video games. Right now, he is looking to leave all of that behind to bring the fans what they’ve been waiting for, new music.
AllHipHop.com got the chance to speak to Xzibit about his album before he left the States to embark on a multi-stop tour in Australia. He also shares thoughts on the legacies of Nate Dogg and Heavy D, and whether or not the world will ever get another “Up In Smoke” tour. Read below to find out what he had to say about this and more:
AllHipHop.com: What’s going on, X? Where are you at right now?
Xzibit: I’m over in L.A. right now, bouncing out to Australia next week. I’ve been back from Europe for about three weeks.
AllHipHop.com: What were you doing over in Europe?
Xzibit: Touring for about two months. We did about 38 shows out there; it was pretty crazy. We went from Finland to Russia, man, and it was intense.
AllHipHop.com: That’s awesome. Any standout moments?
Xzibit: Just seeing the fans man. I’m used to traveling a lot, but coming out and having not put out a record since ’07, and to come out over there and have the traction and reaction like that, it was a great experience for me.
AllHipHop.com: Definitely. I heard a few months back that you also traveled to the Middle East to film your music video, and that you were the first artist to do a Hip-Hop show in Baghdad. Tell me about that.
Xzibit: Well I did a song called “N#####” featuring Travis Barker for the album, that’s the title track for the record, and being that we were going to be able to have this kind of visual and this kind of experience, I figured we might as well put the cart before the house, which is something I usually don’t do. But being that we couldn’t get this experience again, the timing was perfect to go film the video over there.
The rest of the album’s not finished, and I usually don’t like to film videos until a project is done, but being that we had the song and it was so powerful, we went out there and got a lot of great footage with the palaces and some of the bases, just a lot of dramatic footage. We were flying over Baghdad in Nighthawk helicopters, and it’s just a great visual. In the States, I would have had to pay Oliver Stone like $3 million to get this sh*t done, you know what I’m saying?
AllHipHop.com: I can’t wait to see that. Did you get to perform for any of the troops when you were over there?
Xzibit: We performed on one of the bases, actually the only base that had U.S. troops and Iraqi troops on the same base. So we got to perform in front of Iraqi people and U.S. troops, so it was incredible to be able to unite people like that even though it was a very intense setting. It was by no means a regular Hip-Hop show that you’re used to.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, I can only imagine.
Xzibit: There’s choppers out there, like real ones and people looking at each other, and everybody’s on edge ‘cause it’s a warzone. For the hour or whatever that we rocked for them, we, at least, was able to let them have a reprise from that mindstate and have something to actually relax with for just a moment, so it was good to be out there with them. It was a morale boost, and they were very excited for us to be there.
We got a lot of great footage. We got to ask the troops what their perception of home is, what they think about home, and what the first thing they’re going to do when they get home is, and we got such a great array of answers. It’s a wide range of answers that’s going to shock a lot of people, but also make a lot of people laugh, a lot of people cry. And it’s good to just have that much conscience, to have people come together and put this album out, and put this footage out the way it needs to be put out.
AllHipHop.com: So why is 2012 the right time to put out your new album after your five-year musical hiatus?
Xzibit: Because the music is there. If the music wasn’t there, I wouldn’t even waste your time, and I wouldn’t waste my time. This is about putting out quality music and feeling the moment. I feel like I’m in the hot seat, and I’m ready to put out my best effort, and that’s what it is. That’s why I’m doing it.
AllHipHop.com: Is N##### the album that was originally going to be called Restless 2?
Xzibit: Exactly, but we revamped it. I actually talked to Dr. Dre about it, and he just gave me the headshake like “nah.” [laughter]. He was just like, “Nah, man, you don’t do something you’ve already done. You need to come with a new, fresh idea,” and that’s exactly what this is.
AllHipHop.com: So what is the significance of the title N#####?
Xzibit: The significance of it is that it’s one of the tracks that I actually did for the album already, which is the one I filmed the video for in Iraq, so it’s the title track to the album, because that’s the name of the song, and the song was done before I even went out there.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. I know you were also producing some stuff on your last project, so did you get to work on any of the production on this album?
Xzibit: As of right now, I’m leaving the production to the producers. I’m just staying on the vocals right now and working on that and actually putting the songs together and helping from a co-producer stand point and coming up with ideas and add things that I see fit.
AllHipHop.com: Who else contributed to N#####?
Xzibit: Well, right now, I’d say we’re about 75 percent done, and I think once we get closer to having a complete album then I’ll be able to come out with a complete tracklisting and a set producers list. Right now, it’s hard for me to say ‘cause I’ve got things flying at me, but I’ve got some stuff from the U.K, some stuff from here, some from down South. I got my brothers out here in the West, so be prepared for a great album.
AllHipHop.com: Can the fans possibly expect a Nate Dogg appearance that you were holding on to?
Xzibit: Unfortunately, I don’t have any Nate Dogg vocals today.
AllHipHop.com: Since we’re on the subject, the world lost both Nate Dogg and Heavy D in the past year. Could you speak a little on the influences they’ve had on you and your career?
Xzibit: Yeah, man, when Nate Dogg passed away, we lost a really huge part of what we considered to be the West Coast sound. I also grew up listening to Heavy D. I bought his albums. I definitely can remember memorizing the lyrics to his records and listening to his beats and loving his beat selection and just loving what he was doing. He was definitely one of the greatest.
Losing people is something that is very hard to do, but I have respect for what these brothers created and what they contributed to what we call Hip-Hop. Nate Dogg is definitely going to be missed. Heavy D is definitely going to be missed. These brothers sparked tons and tons of other sounds and other careers, so I’ve got much respect for both of these brothers and, you know, we definitely got a soft spot for Nate Dogg, man, because there will never be another one like him.
AllHipHop.com: You actually got the chance to perform with Nate Dogg a number of times, specifically on what I would imagine is one of the greatest moments of your career, which was being a part of the “Up In Smoke” tour with Dre, Snoop, and Em. What are the chances that you guys will ever get a second “Up In Smoke” tour going?
Xzibit: I don’t know, man [laughter]. There’s bigger pieces to the puzzle that you’ve got to ask that question to, but I’d love to.
AllHipHop.com: What is your relationship like currently with all of those guys?
Xzibit: I mean, I talk to my n*ggas on the daily, you know what I’m saying? My man, Dr. Dre, I can reach out to him. Me and Snoop Dogg see each other. I don’t really see Em as often. I think the last time I saw him was in Detroit at St. Andrews, but it’s all good. I don’t think my relationship with my n*ggas is bad at all, if that’s what you’re getting at.
AllHipHop.com: Not at all, not at all. Some time has passed, and everyone is making their own moves as expected, so it’s just nice to hear that everyone remains in contact and is still holding each other down.
Xzibit: Yeah, it’s definitely all love still.
AllHipHop.com: Lastly, you’ve been very successful making the transition from artist to actor. Do you currently have any new film or television projects in the works?
Xzibit: No, not really, man. Right now, I’m just focusing on the music. I’ll start focusing on film and television again, as soon as I get this album done and out where it needs to be.
AllHipHop.com: Is it safe to say that N##### is your best work to date?
Xzibit: I mean, I’m happy with the music. I’ll leave the rest for the critics to decide.
AllHipHop.com: Well, we’re looking forward to the album, and I want to wish you success as you prepare to embark on your Australian tour.
Xzibit: Alright, fam, I appreciate that. Thank you.
For more information and updates on Xzibit, visit: www.Xzibit.com
Follow Xzibit on Twitter: @Xzibit