interview XZIBIT (PART 1)  (May 2008) | Interview By: Nima Etminan

Dubcnn had the great opportunity to sit down with West Coast veteran Xzibit for an in-depth 3-Part interview we like to call "The Life & Times Of Xzibit". In Part 1, we discuss his childhood, why he became a rapper, hooking up with the Likwit Crew, the L.A. scene of the early 90's and coming out with "Paparazzi".

We then talk about 2Pac, Xzibit's path until he met Dr. Dre, the experience of being on the Up In Smoke tour, the "Restless" album and the dominance of the West Coast during that peiod in time. Lookout for Part 2 where we talk about Snoop Dogg's beef with X, his career after Restless, "Pimp My Ride" and more.

As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leavefeedback on our forums or email them to nima@dubcnn.com.

Related Media:

Xzibit - Dying 2 Live (X-Files 2: I Want To Believe)
Interview was done in May 2008.

Questions Asked By: Nima Etminan

Xzibit Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Audio Interview Here

Dubcnn: We got Mr. X 2 The Z Xzibit right here on dubcnn, what's going on with you X?

What's good with you man?

Dubcnn: You've been involved in many different businesses in the last years, from music, to TV to the movies, where is your head at right now?

Where's my head at? Wow... You know, it's been a minute since I've been doing music; and the film and TV is fairly new to me. Even though I got films under my belt, I still feel like it's a lot for me to learn. I would say my heart and my mind is still wrapped around the music because if you think about it, it's a catalyst for what makes everything else work for me.

Dubcnn: You've dropped albums every 2 years since the beginning of your career... It's been 2 years since Full Circle... Does that mean something is cooking?

Nah. Right now, it's about family, I'm doing a lot of family stuff. I just finished X-Files 2 which I feel is my biggest role to date. I don't know, I think what I need to do, especially in the state of music and the way it is now, I think I'd do myself and my fans a disservice by trying to do anything except make what I've already created, better. You know what I'm saying? Like create the lane that I've created for myself, and just decorate the best.

From the feedback that I've received from everybody else, what brought me to peoples attention the best was the introspective stuff. Not necessarily trying compete to what popular music, but just doing what I do the best. That's what gave people interest in what I was doing, so that's what I need to do. The more I learn and the more I increase doesn't mean that I have to go reach out and try to incorporate other people into it. I learned that lesson too. It started with Xzibit, I'ma just keep pushing and make the best that Xzibit can be. I think I'd do myself a disservice trying to be competing with niggas that don't even have respect for the things that I have respect for. It's not the same kind of fight.

Dubcnn: You're considered a veteran by now, since you exploded onto the scene in 1996. How different is Xzibit from back then compared to the one I'm talking to right now?

Whooo!! Man! It's like night and day, brother. There's no way that I am the same man that I was back then. At 18, 19 years old, you don't know shit! You think you know everything, but boy... The shit that I know now... I just turned 33, so I'm grown, I've matured, I have expectations, I have standards - that was a big one for me to get. *laughs* You know! But that's what it is. You can't expect me to be the same dude, or be the same kid that I was. I have to grow and hopefully I can take ya'll with me. Some people just don't understand that, that's my second realization. Some people are going to get it, and some people don't!

You can't bring everybody on with you, even if you do things perfectly. You can get all the money in the world and it's gonna be somebody around you that's gonna say "Man fuck what that nigga talkin' bout!" You know what I'm saying? You can't please everybody! That's the main difference man, a lot of maturity, a lot of realizations, and a lot of reality, even from "Full Circle" to this point now, so I can still have a viable career, still understand who I am regardless of where I've been and what I've done.

Dubcnn: Let's rewind back a few years... I remember Suge Knight once making a comment saying you really ain't from Cali and stuff like that. Where did you grow up and how did you end up in L.A.?

I don't really give no weight to when people start saying stuff like that, cause if you really think about it, Nate Dogg ain't from Cali either, he's from Mississippi. Kurupt's from Philly, you know, everybody has moved around the States. I think what [Suge] was trying to say, was that I don't have any roots here in Cali. But the thing is, I've been in Cali since I was 17. So a lot of the things that I've done from then till now, like my son is here, I got family here, and as far as me representing the music, that's all I give a fuck about. I could care less. For me, being from California, being from anywhere, it's about how you represent that music, how you do that. That's what it's about and that's the only thing that really was important.

I was born in Detroit and when my mother passed when I was 9, my dad got remarried and we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I got friends and family out there that still live there. But when I was out there, it was easy to get caught up into shit, cause it's nothing to do! So that didn't work for me. I expected more of myself, even at a younger age. I knew that I could be doing something better. So the closest metropolis to me that I had contacts and that I could actually go out and see, was California! So when I was like 16-17 years old, I got into my little Geo Tracker with my little 3,000 dollars, I had some handguns and cross color clothes, my nigga, and I rolled the fuck out! I got to California and that's how I started!

Dubcnn: Could Xzibit have ended up going to college to become a 9-5 worker or was it in your blood to become an entertainer?

Nah... When I was a kid, I started writing raps cause my parents wouldn't let me listen to it. The closest thing I could do to listening to it without getting in trouble, was to write my own. That's how I started, for real! It wasn't an ambition of mine though, what I wanted to do was be an architectural drafter, a designer, an architect. That was what I wanted to do! If my mother would have stayed alive, there is no way I would've become a rapper. Both my parents were educated, they were teachers. They never were fuckin' with nothing other than "no basketball, no entertainment, you gotta go hit them books!" They had me in class constantly.

Dubcnn: So what happened that you became a rapper? Cause you said becoming an architect was your plan...

Yeah that was my plan! And then... juvenile detention centres happened! *laughs* I got my ass chewed up and locked up! That was it! I got taken out of my home early, at like 14, it was a bad step-family arrangement, there was something in my family to where none of the kids graduated and moved away, we all ran away. So that was the thing. It was a turbulent childhood that led to me being alone early, on my own without no supervision or none of that. A lot of the decisions that I made came from the gut, cause I was on the street at 14-15 years old, you know?

Dubcnn: So how did you first meet King Tee, J-Ro, Tash, E-Swift and the rest of the Likwit Crew?

Well, it was a guy named James Broadway, he had a group called Madcap, they were on Loud Records at the time. I was with a guy named Top and Top introduced me to James Broadway, who introduced me to King Tee and Tha Liks. That was it! I met up with them, and they was the first MC's I knew with real record deals!

Dubcnn: Who were the people around at that time?

I mean, it was a scene in L.A. at the time! The only people in the Likwit Crew was King Tee, Tha Alkaholiks, Lootpack was there, Madcap was rolling with us and I was actually with a guy named Ali Rock, and me and him together were the Shady Bunch, which was really gay! *laughs* At the time the name was pretty cool for us, we was just little niggas trying to do anything to get on, so the Shady Bunch was me and Ali Rock together as a group. But it never worked out cause our subject matter was so different, he was talking about pick-pocketing niggas and stealing clothes, shoplifting, and I was talking about murking niggas with giant pistols and shit! We couldn't get it together, so it didn't work.

Dubcnn: What kind of an atmosphere was it back then?

Oh, the Hop! The Hop was so strong in Los Angeles! Bigga B (Rest In Peace) was the figure head for all of the Hop that was coming out of L.A., because he was organizing Unity, which was a showcase that had people flying in from all over the map to perform at Unity. [Bigga B] was the first guy to bring Wu Tang, Redman, Method Man and all these dudes that we only got to see on TV or read about. He built a platform that put us up there on the same stage as them, at that time in L.A.. If you could get on a Unity stage, that meant that you were doing what you're supposed to do. The Pharcyde was cracking, it was a real scene in Los Angeles!

Dubcnn: I feel like your message on Paparazzi is something that is still very relevant today, but even back then, I remember on "Bomb First" one of the Outlawz said something like "if you're not in the game for the money, what are you in it for"? What did you think about that?

I remember it was taken out of context. They heard it as a direct quote, because Tupac had said something about the money and the fame, but my song had nothing to do with that. It had a deeper meaning, but they took it directly. I never waste my time attacking people directly, I only did that once when Dre sent us on Jermaine Dupri - but that's a different story. But for me, I never waste my time attacking people with lyrics, cause if you got something to say, if you're that pissed about it, you should say that shit to his face.

That song [Papparazzi] was the first thing I wanted to say to my community, it was everything that I had compiled in my basis thesis, for me coming into the game, what was important to me and what wasn't important to me. It was more talking about me than it was talking about anybody else, because I'm not in it for the money or the fame! If that was the case, I would have quit after my first album, cause my albums didn't hit platinum until my third one! So the proof of what I was saying on that first record is true today.

Dubcnn: Did you ever get a chance to meet 2Pac?

I met him once outside the House of Blues, he was by himself, he jumped out of a Bentley or something and he was like "what's up", we shook hands and he went into the House Of Blues, I went the other way, and that was it!

Dubcnn: To me, there is a big difference between the Xzibit from the first 2 albums, and the Xzibit after he hooked up with Dre. Do you agree with that?

Well, yeah definitely. Because with Dre, it was the first time I took input from an outside producer. My other albums were basically built on my ideas, my concepts and that was it! That was all I knew, what I wanted to say and that's how I said it. It was basically what my perception was of album making, I had no plan or no experience when it came to making a record like that, so when I got with Dre, it was taking directions and doing different things that I normally wouldn't do. With Dr. Dre's help and influence, you have to able to take direction and try to make it the best. Even though it may not be your idea, you have to perform it the best, or the best you can do. That's the main difference, taking somebody's direction on my records.

Dubcnn: Your song "Paparazzi" was a huge hit, especially overseas, how did you react when you heard you were getting so much love overseas?

It was incredible! I couldn't wait to get overseas and actually make it happen. I went on tour, my first Gold record came from Germany, I had a lot of fun out there, had a lot of tours out there, and it was a great experience to be able to go international before I even got big here at home, you know?

Dubcnn: So after Paparazzi blew up, what happened?

Shit, tour! *laughs*

Dubcnn: Was it a big change in your life after that song came out?

Oh yeah, come on man! Come on! It was a huge change! You sell records, you tour, you travel the world at a very young age, I was 19-20 years old going overseas, blasting out! Things change. I had never seen that much money in my life, never been able to travel that much, never been around people that I had so much admiration for, you know? It was like a kid in a candy store!

Dubcnn: How did you initially connect with Dre? If I remember right you were rolling with Soopafly or something?

Yeah, I definitely was rolling with Soopafly, he was digging the style. He was living right around the corner from me, I would go over there listen to his beats, bust some shit, it was just the vibe! Niggas was fuckin' around, making music! I was actually living with Fredwreck at that time, just chewing shit up on the underground and then I got the call. I mean you see Dre here and there, and he knows of you, but then I got that call to come to the studio and we did "Bitch Please". From there it all started.

Dubcnn: Would you say the Up In Smoke Tour was a turning point in your career?

Yeah, definitely! The "Up In Smoke Tour" was a huge turning point in my career! It was kind of like, bubbling from what I had done in the underground and the introducing it to the mainstream! Everybody and they mama went to that tour and it was a good platform to be seen and to be with those heavyweights, and to be able to have my music play alongside theirs and get the same accolades. It was incredible, it was a huge turning point in my career.

Dubcnn: How do you feel about the Restless album looking back at it now?

To me it's just like my other records. I said things on that record that I really meant and you had to wrap your mind around it to really feel what I was saying. It goes back to what I was saying in the beginning, some people got it and other people didn't. I don't feel like I was rapping different, I feel like the production went up a notch or two, and then it was all about delivering what I thought was best. It was a progression.

Dubcnn: Around that time you guys also did the Game Don't Wait remix with 213 and Dre. What kind of an experience was it, making that song?

Oh man, it was just like everything else, it was very organic. You get a phone call "Ay we need you to get down on this song!" Next thing you know you're getting in a car to be in a video.

Dubcnn: Yeah the video was classic!

That's when it was rolling!

Dubcnn: It seemed like the West was really back where it was supposed to be at that time. Why do you think it didn't last too much longer?

I don't know man, I think that with anything, you have to stay consistent. You have to keep putting out product. I don't know, I can't answer that question, I can' only speak for myself. It's hard to speak for a whole coast of people, especially for a whole coast of MC's. I know that I only wanted to best and only continued to put the best forward for the West Coast, and not just the West but Hip-Hop period. I never tried to be what everybody else was trying to be. I wanted to be me and show what I can do. I think that somewhere along the line some people lost sight of that and it became about just self preservation. And that never works. *laughs*

Dubcnn: And then, Snoop dropped your name in "Pimp Slapp'd". When did you first hear that Snoop dissed you?

Find out the answer the that question in Part 2 of our 3-Part interview with Xzibit!


Xzibit Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Audio Interview Here



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