Greater things are believed of those who are absent. And so expectations are high as Xzibit returns with his first album in six years. It’s been a long time coming while the West Coaster was a mainstay on MTV with Pimp My Ride fitting showers into Mini Coopers and microwaves into lowriders. So what has changed since the last (2006’s album Full Circle)? Not much. But that’s not a bad thing.
Napalm is Mr X to the Z’s seventh album and it comes with all the trimmings fans have come to love; the gravel-laced growl, the overblown beats and the lyrical flow that has made him a standout on the rap scene. This comes after a hiatus filled with lawsuits, rumours of splits with the old crew and everything that included not releasing an album.
The scene’s set with the opener – State Of Hip Hop vs. Xzibit – which kicks off with a stomping statement of intent of what’s to come. Acting as a lamentation of what rap currently is, as well as a self-affirming chest thump of what X still is and isn’t. It’s a standout track that will pop speakers as well as get everyone in the mood for some aggressive, well-produced hip-hop.
Louis XIII featuring The Alkoholiks pricks up ears as you recognize Dre’s fingerprints all over it; it has a familiar swaggering as it limps to an Alkoholik garnish mixing their fun, boozy and back-and-forth spitting with Xzibit’s headstrong vocals.
When you compare an album like Napalm with its predecessors you get a more straightforward collection of tracks. This means a little less of the dangerous booty/gangbanging and infused storytelling (compared to say 2002’s acclaimed Man vs. Machine) but good old fashioned rapping with political undertones heard on the title track Napalm and the Trayvon Martin reference on Stand Tall.
Its noticeable guest artists are carefully selected and verses may stick with you maybe even more than the choruses do. Lookout for additional content from Wiz Khalifa on Forever A G, Game on Dos Equis and the litany to cool gangster flicks on Movies as well as a noticeable mention to Mobb Deep’s Prodigy on Something More.
Indeed the state of hip hop has been in a state of flux since the now mythical “upcoming” Dre album has failed to surface and the last major talking point was a blond rapper hailing from Detroit. X knows this. X knows music is music and has put out an album that does what it says on the tin; spits incendiary venom across your player while putting a line in the sand for anyone who thought he’d fallen to the wayside.