Xzibit one on one and he don’t hold back!
Hey, what’s up?
Man I’m dropping this album on ‘em.
I know. I saw you had a bunch of different producers on Man vs. Machine. What did each bring to the table?
I’ve wanted to work with [DJ] Premier for a long time. Bink definitely came with some different flavor. I knew what I was going to get from [Dr.] Dre. One thing that made it all gel together was the intensity. Believe me if it didn’t give me what I was trying to come with then it wasn’t going to work. I already did one record with Dre and I used that for a platform for everything else.
Do they give you beats and you go at it?
We hit the studio and built it from scratch.
Is it fun to have that challenge of doing it from scratch?
The music gels together better. The album is just myself banging on the machines and right there. I did have a few songs written before I got there, but most is just on the spot.
You’re always telling a story, is the idea in place first?
We work on the music first cause it gets you geeked up like [yells: ‘hey!’] (we both laugh) Then I drop the rhymes over the top. The records write themselves. Like I never name a song until I finish it.
I was going to ask about a few songs.
Have you heard the album yet?
No, they said they don’t have advances yet. I asked last week for it.
What the fuck? How are you supposed to be a good journalist if you don’t even have the product.
See, that’s what I’m saying.
It’s alright man. They don’t want anyone bootlegging it probably. (laughs)
Usually I get to brag to my friends that I have a record a month or two early, but not this time. What tracks will get us going?
Yo, “Symphony in X Major” is phenomenal. That’s going to fuck ya’ll up. Man Vs. Machine is my best album. Everyone is like ‘naw, your best album is blah blah blah’ You know? But I’m telling you everything I’ve been doing from ’96 until now has been a learning process. But as far as albums this is my most well rounded album. It’s powerful dog, it’s powerful.
Are there any tracks you ever listen to and you can’t believe you wrote it?
The raps are always going to be tough and shit, but the complete thought process of going through each song is what gets me most excited. I’ve been around the world. I’ve done shit that has been critically acclaimed. I’ve done some shit that brothers wanted to put in a sling shot and shoot out a window. (I laugh) I’ve done every kind of rap record possible. I’m still here, I still got my street credibility, and I’m still learning. Everything is a learning process and I think the people that can learn from their mistakes and from their victories are the ones that will stay in the game. I’m not a microwave rapper, I didn’t get hot overnight. Know what I’m saying? My shit has built gradually. No matter how many records I sell I’m still underground, fuck ya’ll. (Laughs)
Do you think you’ve evolved because of age or being in the game for a while?
I think my perception of what I have to do as an artist is more important than my quarterly report. The numbers [of sales] are getting higher and corporate is thrilled. But the fact remains that I came from a place called Unity with my forefathers Da Alkaholics, and I’m still backpacking although I could have graduated to a briefcase. (Laughs) This rap music is something I love, seriously, and it’s not something I take advantage of. Me staying underground doesn’t mean I’m not about selling records cause I need to feed my child.
Did you record a lot of tracks?
I recorded about thirty songs for Man Vs. Machine.
Is it hard to pick and choose?
Hell-mother-fucking yeah. (Laughs)
They’re your babies, hard to leave them behind right?
I was just learning my woman. (Xzibit laughs, and when I mean laughs he has this great laugh that when he starts its almost impossible for you not to laugh your ass off along with him) You know those people in the outback, like in the Ozarks and shit? They be like ‘they made me learn my woman’. (Again with the laugh which makes me laugh so hard I almost cry)
How’s the Eminem tour?
It’s cracking. It’s crazy.
Do you like being on the road?
I hate being on the road. I hate being away from my family. Not necessarily my friends, cause my friends ain’t acting like friends right now. (Laughs) But we good though. But being away from my crib, you gotta remember I’ve been making records and on the road since ’96 and it ain’t always been good. I’ve slaved and worked hard for this. It’s nothing because its what I love to do. I’m twenty-seven years old and I can’t have other things stop me from being a man and taking care of my responsibilities. The ends justify the means and I feel comfortable. It was at the point where I first started and there was really no one. But it was still fun to rock eight hundred people. The amount of time it takes to leave California and to the Carolinas takes a toll. My little nigger needs me. I hope other underground rappers look up at what I did and follow my example and say ‘hey, he did it, why can’t I?’ especially cats from California who everyone thinks is all about jeri curls, lowriders and shit. We be smacking our bitches up. (Xzibit laughs so hard that I seriously almost fall out of my chair laughing) I’m just fucking with you.
Is the determination the key? I mean there are a lot of rappers who come and then are just gone.
Ya’ll should definitely put that up ‘who is a microwave rapper?’ Those mother fuckers heat up over night, but when that beep go off its all over.
I got a record from Young M.C.
Young M.C. was just on the weakest link with me. Yo, he’s as smart as a mother fucker. No wonder he ain’t rappin’. (we both laugh)
He spending too much time in the library and not enough in the studio.
He better put the damn book down and get his ass in the studio. Man what the fuck is he doing reading books? (we both continue laughing hysterically) No he’s good. It was fun though. Real quick off the subject, there are a lot of dumb rappers out there.
Doesn’t surprise me, I know I’ve talked to a few.
Man, we were on The Weakest Link and, what is three times four?
Yo this nigger said seven.
Who was it?
I’m not gonna tell you. (Laughs) I can’t shoot the nigger down like that. [it was B-Real from Cypress Hill] Okay. Seriously, how many times does the earth rotate in 48 hours?
Yeah. I’m gonna tell you this one. Jermaine Dupri said three times. (we both laugh)
Were you dying?
I wasn’t dying, I was looking in his guts because we were supposed to be up there representing hip hop and we’re up there looking like dumb asses. At least I missed a few hard ones, hell, but the easy ones I got.
Where the hell did they find Young M.C.? Nobody’s heard from him in a decade.
Because Bubba Sparxx canceled. (Laughs) You know he would have gotten up there looking like an ignoramus. Dude fucks pigs in his videos so what’s he gonna say? (we both start laughing hysterically)
I gotta get me a copy of that show.
I’ll gladly send you a copy of mine. Just take that shit and blast it over the net and show everyone just how dumb he is. [i.e. Jermaine Dupri]
I read you’ve been working out. Got any tips?
Yeah, stop drinking and smoking. It does your body wonders. (Laughs) You’d be amazed what you can do when you aren’t fucked up.
Keeping yourself from the vices now?
Well I’m not a monk now, everything in moderation. I’m not going to say that I’m never going blunt or have another drunk.
+ charlie craine