In the mid 1990s, Xzibit emerged on a music scene dominated by socially antagonistic rap artists. But moving steadily into the forefront of rap and hip-hop, Xzibit stole the limelight with each live appearance, besting other so-called gangsta wannabes along the way. In the spirit of hip-hop and with a unique personal flair, Xzibit performed his own original material, recanting his own views orr life through his lyrics. He delivered his message in throaty, yet crisply enunciated syllables expressed with a high degree of dramatic flair. Xzibit’s rhetoric, which centered on street life and the perils of the American underground culture, concerned matters of personal urgency to the artist himself.
Critics attributed Xzibit’s talent to the depth and honesty of his self-penned lyrics. The emcee’s inspiration was spawned from a hard-knocks childhood that began in the tumultuous street environment of Detroit, Michigan, where he was born during the post civil rights era of the 1970s. Xzibit was virtually orphaned when his mother, a writer, died when he was nine years old. Custody of Xzibit then fell to his father and stepmother in New Mexico. They brought the boy to live with them, although by age 14, he seemed incorrigible. Through a series of indiscretions, Xzibit racked up a record with the local police department and was referred to the juvenile court system where he remained in custody until age 17. Upon gaining his freedom, Xzibit—who had taken to recording his emotions in the form of song lyrics as early as age ten—began a migration to Southern California, including a brief hiatus in Arizona. In California, the transplanted Midwesterner, whose work experience extended to clerking and little else, hooked up with a record producer who called himself Broadway in 1992. The producer arranged for Xzibit to join with Ahle Rocksta under the auspices of an act called Shady Bunch. When the details of the deal failed to materialize, however, the rebellious and independent Xzibit vowed to embark on a career as a solo performer.
Xzibit was consumed with idealism, and he possessed an innate talent that was enhanced by his persistence. As a result, he eventually connected with The Alkaholik Family, a prominent Los Angeles collaborative and members of the so-called Likwit Crew who were colleagues of emcee King Tee. Xzibit collaborated with King Tee and the Likwit Crew, contributing to the track “Freestyle Ghetto,” on King Tee’s King Tee IV Life album. Likewise, Xzibit was heard with Tha Alkaholiks on their Coast II Coast release from Loud/RCA Records in 1995 and joined the group members on tour.
By 1996, Xzibit had signed a recording contract himself as a soloist with Loud Records. His debut album, At the Speed of Life, was released that year. Within the lyrics of that first recording, he defined his artistic paradigm. That basis, in conjunction with a trademark musical style that was replete with raw emotion, combined to create a persona through which he rejected the ethic of the contemporary music industry. That ethic, in Xzibit’s perception, was motivated by profit. By his own admission, Xzibit infused the album with a substantive message through which he intended to define his presence as an artist. The underlying theme was that the normalcy of middle American life, in his experience, was a rarity. It was instead the aimless and untamed life in the urban underworld that typifies the culture of life.
Xzibit’s effectiveness in portraying that emotion earned critical praise for At the Speed of Life. His idealism was accentuated in the album’s lead track, “Paparazzi,” which became a popular anthem and clearly set the tone of his purpose—to expose the hypocrisy of the “glam” and greed of the profit-oriented rap industry. Indeed, “Paparazzi,” which was released as a single track, sold in excess of 100, 000 copies prior to the release of the completed album. Also on the album, “Carry the Weight” was a recognizably autobiographical statement. A more poignant track called “Foundation,” presented a stirring and heartfelt message from Xzibit as a new father to his one-year-old son. The junior Xzibit’s infant squalls were in fact recorded live and superimposed into a background mix of the track. “Just Maintain” features cameos by Xzibit’s Alkaholik colleague J-Ro, and Hurricane Gee. A follow-up album, 40 Dayz and 40 Nightz, appeared on Loud Records in 1998.
The success of the initial pair of Xzibit albums launched a touring phenomenon for the rookie hip-hopper
Born Alvin Joiner in 1975 in Detroit, MI; one son.
Affiliations with King Tee and the Likwit Crew; member of The Alkaholik Family, 1992—; extensive U.S. touring, 1995—; signed with Loud/RCA Records, 1996; released debut album, At the Speed of Life, 1996; released 40 Dayz and 40 Nightz, 1998; released Restless, 2000.
Addresses: Record company —Loud/RCA Records, 2900 W. Sunset Blvd., Suite 202, West Hollywood, CA 90069.
who appeared in Miami, Florida, at the all-day Carnival 1999, the third annual version of a benefit event sponsored by Haiti’s Wyclef Jean and the Wyclef Jean Foundation Inc. By the summer of 2000, Xzibit had been heard on Def Squad Presents Erick (Sermon) Onasis and appeared repeatedly on the hip-hop tour circuit. He performed at the fifth annual Beat Summer Jam in Los Angeles, sponsored by radio station KKBT at Irvine Meadows, and he toured along with his associates Tha Alkaholiks and rapper Eminem in the late summer of 2000. His concert schedule that summer included an appearance at the Powerhouse Back to School hip-hop show at Arrowhead Point in Anaheim, California, as well. He rejoined Eminem and Limp Bizkit later that fall for a West Coast tour and around that same time, participated in a tour of Southern California with Jurassic 5 in a program called Word of Mouth. In October of 2000, Xzibit appeared at the third annual Smokeout, a 16-hour jamfest in San Bernardino, California. Most notably, he joined in the landmark Up in Smoke tour of 2000 which featured prominent hip-hop artists including Snoop Doggy Dogg and Ice Cube. A popular and well-organized affair, the tour brought public vindication to an art form that was vilified earlier by a series of murders affecting the so-called gangsta rapping musicians of the 1980s.
In September of 2000, Xzibit was featured on the Loud Records Loud Rocks anthology. In all, Xzibit contributed three tracks to the album, including a piece called “Los Angeles Times,” which he recorded with Endo, and he was paired with Sevendust in a joint rendition of “What U See Is What U Get.” The Sevendust collaboration received critical praise as a musical milestone. Xzibit also performed a cameo on De La Soul’s Mosaic Thump album before releasing a third solo album, Restless, in the fall of 2000. Xzibit, having taken root in the industry, also laid plans to perform in a trio with Saafir and Ras Kass. The three billed themselves as the Usual Suspects.
Xzibit’s legitimacy as an artist was confirmed by other musicians, including the popular hip-hop artist and producer Dr. Dre who assumed the role of mentor to Xzibit and catapulted the young protégé more prominently into the mainstream circles of musical culture. But it is Xzibit’s reputation for penning inventive lyrics with a sincere message that has brought the rapper a singular respect in his field.
“Paparazzi,” Loud Records, 1996.
“What U See Is What U Get,” Loud Records, 2000.
At the Speed of Life, Loud Records, 1996.
40 Dayz and 40 Nightz, Loud Records, 1998.
Restless, Loud Records, 2000.
(Contributor) Loud Rocks, Loud Records, 2000.
Billboard, August 17, 1996, p. 77.
Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1998, p. 22.
New York Amsterdam News, October 5, 1996, p. 34.
Rolling Stone, September 14, 2000, p. 131.
Washington Post, November 19, 1999, p. C-4.
“Xzibit Biography,” http://www.xzibit.cjb.net/ (October 13, 2000).
“Xzibit Online—Biography,” http://www.eagleson.com/hiphop/likwit/xzibit/bio.htm (October 12, 2000).
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