Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: EMI
Xzibit :: NapalmOpen Bar EntertainmentAuthor: Matt JostXzibit is a rap icon. Not because he's a gold and platinum recording artist or because he gave the 'rapper' archetype an unusually personable face on one of MTV's most famous shows. No, the iconic figure that is Xzibit emerges whenever he opens his mouth and raps. His voice and flow are a symbol of rap's vigor and vitality.
Revisionist history hasn’t been kind to Xzibit. Lost in jokes about MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” and internet memes is the fact that for about seven years, Mr. X to the Z had a run in Hip Hop that most emcees could only dream of. After putting in work in the mid-90s with Tha Alkaholiks and the Likwit Crew, X released an acclaimed sophomore in 40 Days & 40 Nightz, and a relationship with Dr.
Xzibit hasn't released an album in six years, a period he mainly spent installing hot tubs in sedans. Now, after one label bounce and a couple of false starts, the rapper has finally dropped Napalm on an unsuspecting and largely unconcerned world. After all, it's been a long time since 2000's Up in Smoke Tour, which introduced Xzibit to CD-hoarding white teens, and his acting efforts never put him in the league of Ice Cube or even Ice-T.
Starting his first album in six years with a track called "State of Hip Hop vs. Xzibit" is a bold statement from the former host of Pimp My Ride who spent much of his time between albums focusing on his acting career. Luckily the song is more of a braggadocios lark than a bitter tone-setting manifesto, and the album focuses mostly on what have always been Xzibit's strengths; heavy west coast beats, party-friendly production, and beastly, rugged rhymes.
The main reason I decided to review Napalm was that I have been pleasantly surprised by recent releases from some of hip hop’s elder statesman. Nas’s Life is Good was a surprisingly consistent album, with only a clutch of filler. E-40’s trilogy The Block Brochure reinforced the street idiom that an old dog can still show hunger and ambition in the rap game.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so fans should be excited to get musically acquainted with Xzibit again. For the last six years, X was present on the small screen (MTV’s Pimp My Ride) and the big screen, acting in movies such as Gridiron Gang and The X Files: I Want to Believe, as his last album, Full Circle, dropped in 2006. Now X is back with Napalm, an LP that shows his presence in hip-hop was lost but his talent was not.