"Xzibit steps up to the mike / Layin' down the hard-core, real raw, underground," announces KRS-One in the intro to "Kenny Parker Show 2001," from Xzibit's third album, Restless (Loud). But though the "underground" tag is a convenient rationalization for the lack of commercial success the Los Angeles MC saw prior to his recent breakthrough, it's never been particularly accurate. Xzibit's first two albums were stripped-down and basic, a hallmark of underground hip-hop, but most of his rhymes were played-out tales of gettin' paid and gettin' laid, and his skills were rarely better than workmanlike. Then, after releasing 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz in 1998, he made cameos on Snoop Dogg's "B Please," Dr. Dre's "What's the Difference," and Limp Bizkit's "Getcha Groove On," and joined last year's controversial Up in Smoke tour with Snoop, Dre, and Eminem. He's proud of his new associates, prominently including snapshots of them flipping the bird with him in the booklet of the new disc. Dre served as executive producer on Restless and ran the board on four of its tracks; hip-hop vets Erick Sermon, Defari, and Tash, as well as Snoop and Eminem, all make major appearances as well. To his credit Xzibit doesn't allow his cohorts to transform his music into boilerplate gangsta crap--even the G-funk crooning of Nate Dogg on "Been a Long Time" can't totally soften the lean, funky grooves. But his attempts to extend his rants beyond the usual braggadocio--addressing the paranoia that comes with fame on "Don't Approach Me" (a warped duet with Eminem) and defending his right to step out on his woman so he can service her better on "Fuckin' You Right"--don't make him any better than the company he keeps. Tuesday, February 27, 7:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anders Jones.