Album Review: Xzibit's "Napalm"
Xzibit became one of the more recognizable names associated with the rise of Aftermath Records due to his stellar feature verses and his solidly composed albums, including my personal favorite, Restless. How we got from that point to now, however, is somewhat difficult to navigate. We know that somewhere after his follow-up album, Man Vs Machine, and before Weapons of Mass Destruction, the union between Xzibit and Dr. Dre was unfortunately severed. We also know that Xzibit went on to become a nationally recognized celebrity due to his movie cameos, which stemmed from his success on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride.” We also know that X has been in and out of the news for a few things, from tax issues to suspended driver's licenses.
Regardless of the over-inflated drama, on the music front it’s been almost six years to the day since his last solo release (Full Circle: released October 17th, 2006). That's not evident when you press play on Napalm, as it's evident that Xzibit hasn’t lost a step. Some people are just born to do music, and Xzibit may be one of those people; combining his ear for production with his lyrical ability and some well-timed features, Napalm is yet another dope drop that proves yet again that X is indeed one of the best from the West to do it.
With an album being in development and delayed as long as this one seemed to be, you would think some of the music would be dated. Aside from the title track, “Napalm” (which was spotted earlier on Travis Barker’s Let The Drummer Get Wicked mixtape), it sounds like vintage X all over again. His aggressive flow easily powers through the already-dominant, West Coast influenced production, and he even tailors his flow to glide over the mellow tracks in the play-through, such as "Forever A G", which features Wiz Khalifa.
The surprising aspect of the album comes in with the perfectly-timed placement of powerful tracks. “1983” is by far one of the highlights of the entire project. Featuring the monologue of his mother, Trena Joiner, Xzibit speaks candidly about his feelings concerning his family, “Pimp My Ride”, his falling out with Paul Rosenberg of Aftermath, his presumed perception through the eyes of Eminem, and more. Xzibit drops another powerful song later in the tracklisting with “Meaning Of Life”, as he recruits Retired Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris to tell his story about being a victim of a roadside bomb (roughly estimated to be close to 800 pounds of explosives) and pushing through it. Using his words as the backdrop, Xzibit goes on a rampage, addressing everything from abusive fathers to the ideals of conformity (and much more).
That’s not to say there aren’t other highlights, because that would be misleading. Napalm is packed with good music, from the feel good track “Enjoy The Night” (featuring Wiz Khalifa, David Banner, and Brevi), to the Konvict Muzik-produced posse track with Game, Slim The Mobster, and Crooked I that has Xzibit rhyming in feature film titles (“Movies”), to the disturbingly chilling “Killer’s Remorse” with Bishop Lamont, B-Real, and Demrick, there’s almost too much to talk about in detail.
The bottom line is that Xzibit’s had time to sit on this project and refine it, and it’s come out as incredible as the tracklisting reads. Napalm is a dope album, and even though it is at times a little too feature-heavy and includes a couple of filler tracks (“Dos Equis” and “Something More” come to mind, with the latter due to an uninspired verse from Prodigy), it contains some singles that’s sure to remind people why Xzibit was an Aftermath flagpole in the first place. There’s indeed some incredible music out right now, but you’d be robbing yourself of quality if you overlooked this one.
AllHipHop Rating: 8.5 / 10