Xzibit says he’s still the underground rapper he was on his first two albums, 1996′s At the Speed of Life and 1998′s 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz. He just also happens to still be the mainstream powerhouse he was on 2000′s Restless.
The West Coast rhyme slinger vows to bridge the gap between his past releases with Man vs. Machine, a concept album of sorts about the backlash a seasoned artist faces after achieving commercial success.
“I’ve got a lot to prove,” X to the Z said backstage at Saturday’s taping of the MTV Movie Awards. “I’ve made some leaps and bounds as an underground artist. I got a lot of prejudice. I got a lot of pressure. I got a lot of stuff built up against me, and I look forward to it. I love a challenge. I’m one man, and I have definitely pulled this little wagon a long way, and I’m about to pull it some more.”
Helping Xzibit along will be guests Eminem, Snoop Dogg, DJ Premier, M.O.P. and, of course, Dr. Dre, who is also executive producing the project. Although Dre said recently he is hardly needed on the album.
“Dr. Dre definitely gets in there and brings out the best in an artist,” Xzibit said. “He’ll get you in there, and he’ll allow you to paint the picture and then, with all his experience and his knowledge, he’ll help you hang it right and present it correctly. He’s not in the studio with some anal-retentive methods of how to produce music.”
Xzibit said Dre’s stable of artists, which includes himself, Em and Snoop along with veteran Rakim and newcomers like Truth Hurts, all have the same goals with their music, so working together comes naturally.
“We want to come out and change the game,” Xzibit explained. “You don’t want to come and be the same cat you were last year. You want to do something better, push the line with your music. That’s how we get it done. As hip-hop artists, you have to take the music seriously, not just as a way to get rich.”
Xzibit and Dre are finishing the final song on Man vs. Machine this week. The album is due September 3, though the rapper said he hopes to release it sooner.
In the meantime Xzibit will begin promoting the album when he heads out on the second Anger Management Tour in late July (see “Eminem, Papa Roach Line Up Anger Management Dates”).
“Last year [Anger Management] was an experiment; this year is an event,” Xzibit said. “The rap and rock fusion seems to work because the crowds are the same. The same kids listening to Papa Roach will listen to an Xzibit CD.”
Xzibit’s set will be a bit longer than it was last year. “Going out there this time, we got four records to pull from,” he explained. “We gonna do some of the classics, we gonna do some of the new stuff and just go out there and have a good time.”
—Corey Moss, with additional reporting by John Gill