Xzibit reflects on reuniting with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, crafting the new Serial Killers album "Summer Of Sam," and the unique difficulties that emerge in the midst of a global pandemic.
Xzibit has been putting in work for over two decades, boasting a catalog of seven studio albums and collaborations with some of the game's legendary artists. Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, DJ Quik, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, and many more have all been pleased to share the mic with X to the Z -- what does that say about the elite status of the west coast emcee?
And yet still to this day, there are some who refuse to recognize what the Golden State Warrior has consistently brought to the table. Even as recently as this past October, when he reunited with Demrick and B-Real to line up the brand new Serial Killers album Summer Of Sam, X's pen game remains as deadly as it's ever been. Only this time, the circumstances have changed -- and drastically, at that. A pandemic has uprooted life as we know it, affecting everyone from the rappers to the fans. Difficult conversations must be had, and sometimes, finding clarity can be a difficult process.
For Xzibit, the process occurs through his art. As he tells it, shaping Summer Of Sam felt especially important in the midst of this global tumult. "It didn’t matter whether you’re rich, poor, old, or young-- everybody’s time stopped at the same way, in the same moment, and that’s very rare," he reflects, speaking with HNHH. "Everybody’s going through this at the same time. So we thought it was the right thing to do, to put our perspective in the best way we knew how. Into the music."
With topics ranging from Summer Of Sam, working with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, some of the unique challenges COVID-19 has presented, and whether or not we'll ever see a "Bitch Please III," be sure to check out the full conversation with Xzibit below.
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HNHH: Hey, what’s up X? How are you doing?
X: What’s up, man? I’m good, considering. Shit is all crazy, but, you know, I’ve been alright. Everybody around me alright, so I consider that a win.
Yeah, definitely. I’m glad to hear that. How’s the quarantine life out in LA?
Well, I mean, it’s been hard on a lot of different demographics of people. But, speaking personally, it’s just limited my movements, you know? I’m at my warehouse, I’m at my studio, or I’m at home-- one of those three places. My bubble is still intact, but seeing people in disarray and people going through economic hard times-- it’s rough on everyone.
Oh, definitely. Especially when you look at the rap game from a fan perspective, it’s so hard to imagine rappers and producers coordinating the "bubble." Meeting up in the studio -- how do you decide which emcees are welcome in your bubble?
Yeah, yeah. Then, you know, on the broader scale, a lot of artists depend on touring and those aspects to keep it going, so the fans are losing out, the artists are losing out-- it’s just rough, you know?
I can tell it’s been heavy on your mind, too, based on the content of the latest Serial Killers album. It’s very relevant, everything that’s going on today, clearly. Did you, Demrick, and B-Real have a plan, going into it? When did you decide to do this album?
No, I mean, it hit us like everybody else -- at the same time, you know? It’s a very rare moment, from as far as I can remember, where the playing field was leveled. As far as, it didn’t matter whether you’re rich, poor, old, or young-- everybody’s time stopped at the same way, in the same moment, and that’s very rare. So everybody’s going through this at the same time. So we thought it was the right thing to do, to put our perspective in the best way we knew how. Into the music, and be able to give that to the people. I don’t think it’s time for self-promotion, so the forty-five-minute album full of threatening motherfuckers, and telling people what we got what you don’t got, is not what it’s time for right now.
I noticed, too, there was a lot of humor in the album. It seems to me that you’re-- it’s not that you’re making light-- but you’re finding humor in the global absurdity of the situation, you know what I mean? It’s kind of crazy.
Yeah. We definitely try to put our character into what we do with the music, and I think we’re funny guys sometimes! [Laughs]
Yeah, for sure, for sure, man.
You know, we wanted to not come with a biased opinion or point of view, so we kind of put different perspectives from all sides into the record. It came out dope, man, it’s a good balance. It’s a timestamp of social commentary, which is rare in hip-hop now. But, you know, I’m not a religious guy, I’m not a political guy, but this music speaks to what we were all going through, from the street perspective.
I know it's been under unfortunate circumstances, as you guys can’t really tour it or anything, but looking back on the body of work, how does it feel to have another album under your belt?
Dope, man. I mean, I’m glad we were able to get it out in a timely fashion, and I’m squarely based in faith when it comes to 2021, being able to safely get out. Once we start touring again, I think it’s gonna be really special for everybody that goes to the first few concerts and hopefully, the people out there can come to some of our performances cause we plan on getting back out there as soon as it’s right. As soon as it’s open and doing what we do best.
Have you guys rehearsed at all-- do you guys still work on the live set for when the time does come?
We always workin’, man. I mean, we have an idea of what our live set is because we got a bunch of mixtapes and one album under our belt already as the Serial Killers but we also have individual solo albums that we can pull from as well. Once it’s time to go, we can sit in a room without even hearing the music and write out the set list, so that’s nothing.
Cool. So, while you guys were making this album, I was kind of keeping an eye on the Instagram activity surrounding it and something I noticed was how a lot of the studio sessions really seemed to be like a family reunion at times. It really looked like a bunch of friends having a great time and I was just wondering-- can you walk me through how everything came together in the booth? And if there were any key reunions, maybe some artists you hadn’t worked with in a while?
Yeah, man. Well first of all, you know, we did all the recording at Vanguard Studios, which is my home studio. All we did was kind of put together the music here, I worked with Focus and Rick Rock and Sick Drums, Dem Jointz, and my man, Coach out in AZ. These are my guys. So, we work on music together all the time, so it was like a domino effect. Soon as we got the idea, 'Okay, let’s cut a record,' then, me and Demrick got in here and kind of worked out the skeleton of it. Once we got it laid out, we called in B, he put in, plug and play his verses, and we vibed out to the music.
Then I went and sequenced everything, put everything together with Focus and we mixed it with my man Alan on the boards. It was dope to be able to put this together so fast. So yeah, you’re right, it was a family atmosphere cause we work together all the time. As far as people I haven’t worked with in a while, I hadn’t done a song with Snoop in quite some time, so to have him on the album was real special to me and the fellas as well. You know, DJ Quik jumped on there, Busta Rhymes jumped on there -- you know, congratulations to The Dragon for putting out Extinction Level Event 2, and all the success that’s rendering right now. It was really dope, man. Really dope to really put this together.
It’s cool that you mention Busta, cause I just love hearing both of you guys collaborating. Especially when you got Focus on the beat, too. What was it like connecting with Busta Rhymes again after all this time?
Oh that’s my brother, man! That’s my brother. We talk all the time, so, you know, he was out here in California, you know, making his rounds, and we was up at Dre’s together. He just came by my studio and he heard what we was working on and he was like, ‘Boom, I gotta be on that. Fuck that.' [Laughs]
I mean, you guys have been two favorite rappers of mine for years now, so every time I see you guys get together again, I think back to that “Multiply” video, the remix, too-- classic times, you know?
Thank you, man, appreciate it.
It’s cool to see you guys are both putting out music still. I noticed too, you’ve been hanging out with Dr. Dre quite a bit, working in his studio. As someone who works with him a lot, what would you say Dr. Dre is bringing to the table when he comes in to oversee a session.
Well, Dr. Dre is the chairman of the board-- let’s get that straight, off-top. And Dr. Dre brings the table to the table. [laughs]
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Well said, well said.
That’s what he brings to the table. He lives in the studio, first of all. So, you know, with his level of expectation of himself and his music, I don’t think people really understand and grasp how strong that process is. I can’t speak on his timetable, you know what I’m saying? I think that every time he’s come out with something, it’s made an impact and changed the direction of music, so I have no questions about his timing, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, when you see me in the studio with Dre, we working on stuff for myself, we working on stuff for him, we working on stuff for everything. But as far as when he releases, that’s up to him. But he never disappoints, so I just let people talk until they actually get it, and then when they get it, it’s a piping hot cup of ‘Shut the fuck up.’ [laughs]
"When you see me in the studio with Dre, we working on stuff for myself, we working on stuff for him, we working on stuff for everything. But as far as when he releases, that’s up to him. But he never disappoints, so I just let people talk until they actually get it, and then when they get it, it’s a piping hot cup of 'Shut the fuck up.'"
Do you guys ever reminisce about Restless and Man vs. Machine, the two albums you guys worked on together the most?
Nah, man, that stuff we already achieved, you know what I’m saying? We looking to do new things, we looking to make forward progress--we’re not living in the past, we don’t turn around often, but when we do, it’s very briefly, and then it’s forward.
Nice. That’s very cool, I mean, I really like the sound that you guys all bring to the table, too. I think the impact of Dre, like you said, it’s touched the game in so many ways. It’s changed the direction of music, and I think producers like Focus and Dem Jointz are true scholars of Dre.
Oh, yeah. We all come from the recording school of Dr. De. We all learned something very special from that process, being in that room is a privilege, you know? So anything we learned in that room, you know, directly or indirectly, is only making us better musicians and artists.
On another note. When the Coronavirus really started to set in, and the severity of it really started to land, because I think a lot of people weren’t really sure what to expect when, you know, people started to talk about it. When it first started hitting the news reports, no one really knew how serious it was gonna be, but it soon became evident that shit was changing. Sh*t was gonna change, and who knows how long those changed will be in effect, you know? Might be for years.
Have you since experienced any sort of life epiphanies, in a way? Things about your life that have made you think in a different way at all?
I mean, think different? No. Realize that we took a lot of things for granted? Yeah. You know, simple things, and really, to be honest, man, I’ve never looked at political alignments to make my life different or better. And my thought process has basically been the same, you know what I’m saying? I’m very self-disciplined, you know, I like to see the forest from the trees, you know what I’m saying? So my mindstate has not been rocked. But what I can say is that I have a ten-year-old son, and his world was turned totally upside-down.
So I look at it from that perspective, meaning that he doesn’t get to see his friends, he doesn’t have his physical activity, the socialization of being around kids his age, he’s around us all day. You know, it wears on them. So I’m more concerned about how they’re going to pull through this, you know, the young-young ones. Like, we’ve never experienced that, I don’t know how old you are, but I’ve never been in a place where I wasn’t allowed to go to school-- ever. Like, and I gotta stay away from people. Like, we don’t know what that is. A child’s world is really small. So for him, it’s been a lot of talks, it’s been a lot of reassuring, letting him know that no matter what happens out there in the world, he’s gonna be okay. It’s fucked up man, you know what I’m saying?
It’s just rough trying to see everybody else struggle, and then the stimulus checks that are coming out aren’t gonna cover the amount of time that people have been out of work, so everything is uncertain. That kind of puts a real tension in the air, where people can’t really express themselves from a relaxed place, everybody’s speaking from a place of either fear or desperation, or know-it-all-- nobody knows what the fuck’s gonna happen, so that uncertainty is definitely making it uncomfortable for everybody.
No, for sure. I imagine that must’ve been a tough conversation, having to explain what a pandemic is, in general, to a child.
Yeah, and it’s an ongoing situation. It’s an ongoing conversation. It’s not something you just have one time, you know what I’m saying? This is happening for months and months and months, you know, this is crazy.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have social media at all. The internet was just kind of popping at the time -- YouTube came when I was in late high school, but there was no Twitter, there was no social media. I know a lot of kids-- they’re just on social media, they’re familiar with the internet, and they’re probably bombarded with so many different takes on the pandemic, fake news, all that sort of stuff.
Oh yeah, it’s f*cking crazy!
Definitely. But at the very least, there’s gotta be a few positives. I try to look at the positives to the pandemic in the sense that it does allow you to spend a bit more time with your loved ones. If you’re a creative person, to get in touch with your creative side, to maybe express yourself in a couple of ways. And you’re a cannabis entrepreneur yourself-- I’m wondering if there’s been any sort of boom in that industry since more people are in lockdown and presumably smoking a lot more weed?
A lot more weed, a lot more alcohol, a lot more, you know, just destructive shit, on top of it. But on the cannabis side of things, I feel as though people, especially if it’s in a recreational setting, in a state that’s recreational, like, people can go out and get this medicine. That’s one positive-- that people have access to it, right?
What would we think would be happening if marijuana was still considered an illegal substance-- it would be crazy right now. It’s already crazy as it is. I think people are trying to self-medicate, and whatever that is, and there’s a lot of people that need to stay clean. They need their AA meetings to do so. When you’re quarantined, you can’t go to AA, so think about how many people have relapsed into destructive behaviors because they can’t get to where they need to go to for their continuation of sobriety. It’s different, you know what I’m saying? But yeah, the cannabis has been good, but it still has been access to a lot of other things, too. Hopefully, people can be able to start communicating and doing what they need to do online and on the Zoom shit. Again, I’m cool with the cannabis stuff, but I’m thinking on a higher level than just making money right now.
What would we think would be happening if marijuana was still considered an illegal substance--it would be crazy right now. It’s already crazy as it is. I think people are trying to self-medicate, and whatever that is, and there’s a lot of people that need to stay clean. They need their AA meetings to do so. When you’re quarantined, you can’t go to AA, so think about how many people have relapsed into destructive behaviors because they can’t get to where they need to go to for their continuation of sobriety.
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Oh, definitely. I didn’t really think about it that way but yeah, definitely. It’s real shit. No way else to put it.
Circling back to the music for a second, have you been working on a solo album at all? Do you have any plans on pushing forward with a solo album?
Yeah, but Summer of Sam came out, we worked on that, that took precedence. Then you know, December 12th is the 20-year anniversary of Restless, so we got some special things lined up to coordinate with that, with Sony. Top of next year I’d like to put out Kingmaker, that’s the name of my new solo album. I’ve been working on it diligently and I’m pretty happy with what’s coming out, so let’s see how it goes. Hopefully, top of next year I can drop my solo project and see where it goes from there.
Cool. I’m looking forward to that. So I have to ask this, what are the chances--and this is just coming from a fan here--but what are the chances that we can ever see a “Bitch Please III?”
Wooh! That’s a Dr. Dre question. [laughs]
Well, if I ever get him on the phone again, I’ll definitely tell him: ”Bitch Please III.”
But you’re a key part of all of them, though, just as much as him! So maybe if you slide up that request, hit up Dre, maybe put the request in...I think a lot of people right now, if people saw a collaboration between you, Dre, Eminem, and Snoop right now, I really do think it would break the internet, to be honest. I really do think that.
Wow, that’s dope, man, thank you. I’ll see if I can talk to Dre about it, but we’ll see. [Laughs]
That’s funny, actually. I mean, I had to try.
No worries, no worries.
On that note, I know you and Dre are super tight, but do you still at all keep in touch with Eminem? I know you guys have worked together so many times, and let’s be honest, you have a great track record of collaborations, like “Don’t Approach Me…” and "My Name."
I haven’t talked to Marshall in a minute, man, but you know, it’s always the same -- I got a lot of respect for him and his team. When we see each other, it’s all love.
Definitely. I find you guys really clicked as emcees, lyrically, the cadences of your voices, the type of beats you’d rap on when you were getting on tracks together. There’s a really solid mesh there.
Aw, man, I appreciate that, man. I think so, too.
Looking back on all the music you’ve made in your career, would you be able to quickly give me some of your favorite tracks from each one of your albums? So like, At The Speed of Life, the song that really resonates the most with you now, 40 Dayz,Restless, and so on.
From my first album, I guess it would be “Paparazzi." “Foundation,” of course. Those are the standouts that kind of catapulted me into the underground scene, from there, you know, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, we had “What You See is What You Get” I believe. And then Man vs. Machine, I mean I loved that whole record, but working with Jinx on there was a highlight for me. Restless, of course, that whole record -- being able to open up and work with Dr. Dre. It’s a timeline. It’s hard to pick and choose moments because all of it has been a journey. But there are things that I remember from each album that kind of make it like a time machine. I can go back and listen to that music and know exactly what I was doing when I made it and when I heard it and when I promoted it, you know? It feels good to have a catalog like that. It’s hard to say, but there are standouts.
It’s hard to pick and choose moments because all of it has been a journey. But there are things that I remember from each album that kind of make it like a time machine. I can go back and listen to that music and know exactly what I was doing when I made it and when I heard it and when I promoted it, you know? It feels good to have a catalog like that. It’s hard to say, but there are standouts.
Definitely. I gotta give a shoutout to “Plastic Surgery,” I like that one quite a bit, from At the Speed of Light.
Oh, yeah [laughs] Yeah!
That was funny.
Yes, Golden State.
Oh, for sure, “3 Card Molly” also, another great Golden State Project track. I always like the dark bangers.
A lot of classics. What do you got planned for the rest of the day?
I’m just at my studio now, just handling some things, got a couple more interviews today, and that’s pretty much it, man.
Nice. Well look, it’s always a pleasure to chat. I always appreciate the interviews we’ve done.
Absolutely man, likewise.
I’m excited for the new album, it makes me happy to see you guys all reunited -- you, Dre, Snoop -- as a fan, that’s the best thing you could see, really. I think a lot of people appreciate that, so keep doing what you’re doing.
Thanks, man, I appreciate you.
Yeah, you too. Have a good one X, stay safe.
Alright, you too, man. Peace.