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by D.T. Swinga
26 January, 2005@12:00 am
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   Mr. X-To-The-Z has had a long career of paying dues and crew hopping, from getting his start as a member of the Likwit Crew, to deflecting to the Shady/Aftermath family, and most recently deflecting again to become godfather of his own crew, Strong Arm Steady. But despite having one of the most dangerous flows in the industry, in the eight years and five LP’s worth of getting his foot in the door, more people know the X-Man from Right Guard ads and MTV’s Pimp My Ride, than they do from his musical career. Partly owed to the anti-West Coast sentiment currently running through hip-hop, and partly towards his various changing sounds, Xzibit has yet to see mainstream success in the rap world. With Weapons Of Mass Destruction, he looks to change that ? or does he? 

     He laments on “Criminal Set”, “Lately I’ve been feelin’ like Will Smith / Why bother with rap when I can get 20 mill’ on a flick?” While many may look at this as a “sell-out” attitude, at the same time X’s frustration is warranted, considering his long track record that has shown little results in the way of success. After leaving the Alkaholik signature sound behind with the Restless LP, it seemed like the reinvented version of Xzibit would easily join the ranks of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, but the lack of industry and fan support proved otherwise. Despite being arguably one of the strongest LP’s he has recorded, it’s rushed follow-up, Man Vs. Machine unfortunately was largely hit and miss, digging a deeper hole for the otherwise talented emcee. 

     Weapons Of Mass Destruction trades the star-power sound linked with Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Snoop, and Eminem for the underlying influence of X’s new Strong Arm Steady family, which looms heavily throughout. Despite losing the big dogs, X works with what he has, and still turns out a pretty decent LP. The post-apocalyptic “L.A.X.” starts the record off with positive results, thanks to a sinister new groove from classic Ice Cube producer Sir Jinx, who pairs with X’s gruff flow perfectly. Meanwhile, despite being responsible for some of the weakest tracks on Man Vs. Machine, Jelly Roll comes through with the much needed heaters with the politically-tinged “Cold World” and the sticky West Coast anthem “Saturday Night Live”. Rick Rock does the same for the obnoxious but likable “Motherfucker”, while Timbaland hopes to keep the hips gyrating on the ample club-banger, “Hey Now”. Hi-Tek another slow-rolling drive-by soundtrack (mirroring his recent “Runnin” on The Game’s LP), as Xzibit and Busta Rhymes form a long-awaited team up with outstanding results. 

      But for every good track on WMD, it seems like there is a poor one to match it. The main problems with this LP lie in the overly generous extended invitations to the Strong Arm Steady, who struggle to keep up with Xzibit on “Beware Of Us”, or even struggle to keep sinking ships “Klack” and “Crazy Ho” afloat. Meanwhile, while X-Man’s party anthems can be excused, the poorly executed sap of both “Scent Of A Woman” and (again) “Crazy Ho”, help drive the point home that this is a very average LP. Still Xzibit finds redemption (literally) on “Judgement Day” and closes out nicely with the reflective “Back 2 The Way It Was”, but still leaves the listener somewhat unsatisfied. 

     Regardless of the LP’s faults, Xzibit remains one of the top lyricists in the game, with a one of a kind delivery, and sharp lyrical wit to match. But like so many others before him, Xzibit lies in the middle of several different managers, labels, producers, emcees, friends, fans, and TV executives suggesting what his album should sound like, that in an effort to please everyone, he instead upsets them all. Still, while this album has its moments from time to time, at the end of the day, unfortunately Weapons Of Mass Destruction isn’t worth searching for.

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