Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV's "Drink Champs," which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly "Drink Champs" episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
This week, west coast rapper and actor Xzibit slid through the "Drink Champs" set to chop it up with Noreaga and DJ EFN about his past, present and future. In his debut appearance on the show, Xzibit gives context to how he went from one of the hottest MCs in L.A.'s underground scene to having hits alongside the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and other legends. Inking a deal with Loud Records during the mid '90s, Xzibit released his debut album, At the Speek of Life, in 1996, which housed his breakout single "Paparazzi." However, it would be his sophomore album, 40 Dayz & 4 Nightz, that would truly put the focus on the budding talent, leading to his appearance on Snoop Dogg's 1999 single "Bitch Please." In 2000, Xzibit's career reached its commercial peak when his album Restless -- which was executive produced by Dr. Dre -- peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and achieved platinum status.
In addition to releasing several critically acclaimed albums, Xzibit is also known for his memorable run as the host of the MTV show "Pimp My Ride," a show that helped bridge the gap between hip hop and reality TV. "Pimp My Ride" ran for seven seasons and made the rapper a household name. Earning over a dozen acting credits throughout his career, Xzibit is looking to make his return to the music game this year with King Maker, his first studio album in several years. With a career that spans multiple decades, Xzibit is one of the west coast's unsung heroes and most respected lyricists.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Xzibit episode of "Drink Champs." Take a look at them below.
1. The Story Behind The "What U See Is What U Get" Music Video
During Xzibit's "Drink Champs" interview, the rapper gave the backstory to the music video for his 1998 single "What U See Is What U Get," which was one of the more creative visuals of its time. "I was on Loud Records and at the time, it was heavyweights on the label," Xzibit recalls. "And we had a west coast office and in the west coast office it was me, Tha Alkaholiks, and Cella Dwellas. We were kind of on our own island and we all know you can't go to war from an island. So, I had to be more creative in order to impress the New York office. So, I got to this idea of wanting to do this one-shot video and all the directors that I kept talking to, they couldn't wrap their head around it. I didn't want to give up on the idea. So, this one director wanted to actually do it, but he was a porn director. He was crazy. He was like, 'I'm shooting all types of other wild shit, why can't I do that?' It was thirteen shots, we did it in like two days and then, we put that thing out, and it just took off. And I think that was the first real impression I got to the music industry."
2. His Respect For New York City Hip Hop
Xzibit may be synonymous with the west coast, but his reverence for New York City's hip hop culture is put on full display during his sit-down with Noreaga and DJ EFN. "I would love coming to New York and sitting in the studios, and listening to the vibes because out in the west, there's only a few cats that's considered lyrical. So, me feeling that I wanted to be a part of that, I would always seek out people that I felt were lyrically, as well. That's why being accepted in New York was so important. I remember going to New York and shooting The Greatest Day In Hip Hop [cover] when they had everybody line up on the steps. That was a really big deal for me. I got a lot of respect for the DJs, the culture, the MCs, the breakdancing and graffiti. Everything that came from New York."
3. How "Pimp My Ride" Came About
During the early aughts, Xzibit expanded his brand with his turn as the host of MTV's popular show "Pimp My Ride." The rapper recalls how the opportunity for him to be involved with the show first came about. "It was a production company," Xzibit remembers when asked who facilitated the deal. "A gentleman named Rick Herbitz came to me and was like, 'I wanna do this car show' 'cause I was getting my cars actually done at West Coast Customs. I was just sitting around cracking jokes making people laugh and shit, and he was like, 'You'd be a great host,' I was like, 'Fuck you, I'm not [gonna host] 'cause there's nothing to compare it to. We literally did the pilot in one of the camera guy's backyard. He had a friend of his. We literally put an air freshener, and put some new hubcaps and washed the shit. So, he came in and was like, 'This is great.' I was just fucking with him and making jokes about his car. They took it to MTV and they bought ten episodes, and they put us on at like 11 o'clock at night. The show just came on and it took off out of the atmosphere and then, we ended up being next to the Ashton Kutcher show, the 'Punk'd' show. They packaged me with 'Punk'd' and Bam [Margera]. So, that's when it really became this international thing."
4. How "Pimp My Ride" Impacted His Credibility In Hip Hop
Despite its popularity, the success of "Pimp My Ride" put a damper on Xzibit's standing amongst his rap peers. "When I first did 'Pimp My Ride,' no one was talking to me," the rapper remembers. "My peers in hip hop didn't have an opinion at the time because, as you said, this is something that didn't exist before. So cats was sitting back, looking like, 'What is this nigga doing?' You can't hi-five a motherfucker if you don't know if he gonna win in hip hop. I felt the show was taking away my credibility of what I had already done. I was used to having cats like us walking up to me like, 'Hey, man, [you] my nigga,' and now I got soccer-moms coming up saying, 'Xzibit, give me a kiss!' So then, it was kind of a tough thing for me because it was taking up so much time. I wasn't able to tour, I wasn't able to records albums. I was there filming, filming, filming."
5. His Life Before Rap
Prior to establishing himself as a rap artist, Xzibit survived a tumultuous childhood. "I was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 18, 1974. My mother passed away when I was nine, my dad got remarried and his wife wanted to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So, at 9-10 years old, I moved out there with my new family. I was in there for seven years, in Albuquerque, and then I went to California. So, there's a lot of people because I went high school in Albuquerque. All of the high schools in Albuquerque, I got successfully kicked out of all them motherfuckers. I was angry that my mother had died, I was forced in this new family, dad got married 2-3 months after my mom had passed away. I just was really in a tough spot. So, when I went to California, I ended up going by myself at 17-18 years old." He also points to a period in New Mexico when he was on the brink of falling into a life of crime or, even worse, death. "I was selling crack. So, I was serving and out there -- and it's a small town -- and we was 15-16 driving around in gold BMWs and gold daytons. It's like the cops knew exactly who we were. It's only like five people there at the time, it was crazy. There was a murder that happened, it was a whole bunch of shit in the street and I told my dad, I was like, 'If I don't get out of here then, I'm gonna die. So, I'm gonna go to California and see what I can do with this music.'"
6. How He Started Rapping
When asked how he initially caught the rap bug, Xzibit chalks up his love affair with the craft to his passion for the music. "'Cause I loved it, man. My parents were very religious. They never let me listen to hip hop. So, I had to get it where I could. I used to have a little Sony Walkman that I scavengered up and when I went to school, I would get tapes from all my homies, and I would listen to it there. Then, I started taking it home and then, they found the shit and broke the shit. Anytime they found some shit -- from hip hop tapes, CDs, anything -- they broke the shit. I bought everything from DJ Magic Mike from Miami, the bass music. I listened to fucking 2 Live Crew, I listened to Rakim, Big Daddy Kane. I listened to Just-Ice, I listened to all that. I remember listening to the Tommy Boy [compilation], that first tape they came out with the guys breaking on the front. I wasn't regional at the time 'cause I just loved it. But, when I got my hands on The D.O.C. CD -- The D.O.C. is my favorite rapper, period. So, I started listening to stuff like that. And then, when they found em, they would just confiscate 'em or break 'em. So, I ended up writing my own rhymes."
7. His First Time Working With Dr. Dre
After making waves with his first two studio albums, Xzibit's career got a boost when he appeared on Snoop Dogg's single "Bitch Please," which sparked a working relationship between the rapper and legendary producer Dr. Dre. "I had made a name for myself in L.A. hip hop already in the underground," Xzibit explains. "We used to all be in this club called Unity, that's was where the rappers were coming from. So, once Snoop went from Death Row over to Master P's label, No Limit, we had had interaction. I was cool with Snoop and he called me, and he was like, 'We working on this album. I want you to come get down. I think Dr. Dre gonna do the beat. Is it cool if he call you?' I was like, 'Yeah.' So then, a couple minutes later, Dre call me. He tell me he at Echo Sounds. 'You wanna come through, see what you got?' I think the phone was in the air when I was already out the door, man, like cartoon shit, I was already moving. So, I ended up going to the studio, it took me about fifteen minutes to write that. And then, I laid it. Then, I shook his hand and I thanked him for the opportunity. I didn't ask him who I should send the invoice to. I didn't ask what the publishing is. I didn't ask what's the split, I didn't give a fuck. Thank you, Dr. Dre. Thank you for the opportunity. Like a week later, a couple weeks later, Snoop called me. He was like, 'Aye, nephew, you know we using that as a single.' And then, I was like, 'My life is about to change.'"
8. Changing His Lifestyle
As a member of Tha Alkaholiks crew, Xzibit's reputation as a Drink Champ is notorious. However, over the years, the rapper made changes to his lifestyle. "I used to do a lot of shit that was not good for me, so I had to really evaluate what was happening. I don't know if it's getting old or maturing or whatever you wanna call it, but I look at other people and I don't have to learn by doing the same thing. I can look at somebody and know, 'Oh, I don't wanna do that' or 'That didn't pan out the way they thought it was,' and take that and use it in my navigation. I feel good about what I've done, I have no regrets what I've done in hip hop. But, I don't do none of that shit like I used to. I'm running business[es], I have a family. I have things that are very, very important to me. I know what it feels like to have unlimited alcohol. I know what it feels like to be able to roll pounds of weed all day, everyday. I know what that feels like, but I've never had a billion dollars. I've never had hundreds of millions of dollars. Not that even material is the goal, it's like how hard can I push my success? How hard can I get to where I wanna go, so I can turn around and help the people I wanna help instead of seeing everybody get help, and pull their other homeboys out and be able to laugh at the cats that ain't in their clique. I wanna take care of my people the same way. That's what motivates me to become more and not listen to the people who have negative [things] to say. But, take care of the people in my circle. And that's easier than dealing with people that ain't ever gonna be convinced."
9. How DJ EFN Met Xzibit For The First Time
Throughout his time as an ambassador for Miami hip hop, DJ EFN has run across a number of rap stars, one of them being Xzibit. DJ EFN recalls his experience meeting the Restless rapper during this recent "Drink Champs" episode. "He came to Wynwood, actually," EFN says of Xzibit's first promo-run in Miami. "Before Wynwood was popping, it was Hoodstock. 'Paparazzi' was out, it was just vinyl release. My crew saw you and we recognized you, and you were just hype to be recognized 'cause you just had a vinyl single out, you wasn't out like that. And then you said, 'I need to be in Wynwood at this spot called Hoodstock.' We were on the beach, it was How Can I Be Down [Music Conference]. And you told me the dude that was with you was either the DJ or the producer of 'Paparazzi' and I said, 'Yo, I'll take you, let's go.' I had my Pathfinder and we didn't have room 'cause I had my crew. So, his boy wouldn't sit in the back of the truck 'cause my crew was in our seats already. He said, 'I'll jump in the luggage area, no problem.' And I just remember he had an Ecko canteen with gin and juice in it, and we passing it around. We pull up to Hoodstock, we got to the wrong area, so it's just a fence. M.O.P. was performing onstage with Heather B and there's no way to get into it, so we start climbing the fence. And since people knew us locally, they're like, 'That's Crazy Hood climbing the fence... and Xzibit???' Jumped the fence, went [in]. It was some chaos in the show. It's just a crazy memory."
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