In hip-hop, one album, or artist usually defines the constant shift of focus between the east, west, and southern regions of the U.S. That artist makes such a significant mark with their release, that the overall sound of the music evolves, trying to capture that same style, and ultimately, the same amount of success. The West Coast lost it’s stranglehold on the industry, shortly after events surrounding the fall of Death Row, and theaftermath of the east / west beef, making room for the South and East to take over.
But the release of Dr. Dre’s 2001, one year ago, has laid the foundation for the resurrection of the West Coast, and is once again reshaping the sound of popular hip-hop music. No more will artists like Tash, Kurupt, or Snoop Dogg have to make disastrous records with east or southern sounds, because the sound of the west coast has been redefined. Now, outside region artists like Jay-Z, Master P, and Mos Def are in turn, trying to make records that capture that same audience (“Change The Game”, “Poppin’ Them Collaz”, “Oh No”). See the trends?
As 2001 set the stage, Xzibit’s Restless is its second official offspring (following The Marshall Mathers LP). While the good doctor produces only three tracks, (each nothing short of incredible), the production team has done an excellent job of keeping 2001′s neo-wessyde vibe in tact. While in the past, with hit or miss results, Xzibit’s production has traditionally been more random, the unified sound of Restless keeps the focus, and helps Mr. X to the Z shine brighter than ever.
The album is Xzibit’s most consistent release to date, repeatedly hitting the listener with body blows, from the minute it starts off with the Rockwilder produced “Front 2 Back”. Despite a sour grape or two, virtually every track on this album is off the meter, in one way or another. The quirky “Fuckin’ You Right” is an NC-17 sure shot that will easily blaze the clubs up, if “Get Your Walk On” doesn’t beat it to wax first.
The only real fault is the over-extended guest list, which really only puts a damper on one or two tracks. While an appearance from producer Erick Sermon on the The Liks posse cut “Alkaholik”, or the addition of DJ Quik and Suga Free on “Sorry I’m Away So Much” seem out of place, most of these collabos work, with the in-camp collaborations shine the brightest. “Don’t Approach Me” (feat. Eminem), “U Know” (feat. Dr. Dre), and the Rick Rock blazer, “D.N.A. (Drugs-N-Alkahol)” (feat. Snoop), each feature incredible verses from each of the respected collaborators. Other collabos such as “Rims and Tires” (w/ Defari & Kokane), “Been A Long Time” (feat. Nate Dogg), and “Kenny Parker Show 2001″ (feat. KRS-ONE) may seem a little questionable, but hardly take away from the album, and work for the most part. Curiously, the token Golden State track (w/ Ras Kass and Saafir) is notably absent, despite the forthcoming album.
End to end, nothing is sacrificed on Restless, as Xzibit still remains as raw of a lyricist as he ever was, the only difference is that he has finally found his niche. The release of this album shows that in 2001, the West is officially the side – world-motherfucking-wide.
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