Thursday, 19 February 2015

Xzibit - Restless (2000)

I don't know if the mark of musical quality can be attributed to being able to remember where you were when you first heard a certain song, or when the brilliance of a certain song first occurred to you, but I suspect it could mean that you really have something if it works the other way round - a specific kind of weather compelling you to dig out a particular record, as was the case here. I played Restless to death when I first got hold of it, all morning on my Discman as I trudged up and down Barry Road shoving poll tax demands and pizza advertising through letterboxes. I listened to that thing over and over, and now associate it with one hot day which had gone on far too long, culminating with fish and chips from Semas Fish Bar - the best chippie in East Dulwich by a wide, wide margin - then falling asleep on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. Restless invokes hot blue skies, palm trees, and cars that go up and down more than it does south London chip shops, but I'm sure you know what I mean, or can at least make the effort to shut up and just take my word for it.

Today being the warmest day that we of San Antonio, Texas have thus far enjoyed this year, following a wet and fairly miserable winter by our subtropical standards, I went outside, noticed how I am now living in a place with hot blue skies, palm trees and cars that go up and down fitted as standard, and realised how long it had been since I played Restless.

Xzibit was probably better known as the bloke from the version of Pimp My Ride which thankfully didn't have Tim Westwood looming around with his weird nose crease, ludicrous accent, and all that twisted shit he did with his hands; or you may recall him from that yo dawg meme which got old pretty fast, unless you discovered it fifteen years after everyone else whilst watching The Bing Bong Theory and then went around repeating it whilst somehow imagining that this constituted being down wit da yoots dem; or hopefully you may recall Xzibit as the first lyricist to draw a bit of attention back towards the west coast in the wake of Death Row Records dropping the ball - attention in this case meaning the likes of The Source and XXL who hadn't really been taking too much notice of that side of the country.

Xzibit's first two albums were decent, but not astonishing, at least not in the same way as Restless is astonishing. His third strike seemed to come through during that millennial west coast push which also brought us Dr. Dre's 2001 and Snoop recording albums you could play more than once, but Restless is easily the most lyrical of the lot.

That said, lyrics were never Xzibit's problem, and where this one succeeds is in eschewing the undergroundisms of the previous two, opting instead for big, brassy Dre-style beats from Battle Cat, Soopafly, DJ Quik and the man himself, amongst others. The sound can be generally characterised as placing the listener's head inside the bass drum with basslines squirted out of cartoon toothpaste tubes beneath the pounding fists of Tom & Jerry tough guys. In terms of heavy it makes Godflesh sound like someone tapping a biscuit tin with the end of a pencil, but much happier because the sun is out, and the car is going up and down just as it should.

I can drink a whole Hennessy fifth,
Some call that a problem but I call it a gift...

Being associated with Tha Alkaholiks crew - or Tha Liks if impressionable young minds are still awake - Xzibit has never been afraid to get ign'ant; which has always been one of his greatest strengths in my view, with that wonderful blend of ign'ant committed with the sort of vocabulary and dexterity more commonly associated with edumacated beret-wearing freestyle and its like. In this respect  our man shines brightly on Restless, particularly on Fuckin' You Right with its robust defence of touring debauchery as a forum wherein one may pick up all sorts of perverted new techniques specifically for the purpose of increasing the sexual pleasure of a wife or partner once the tour is done; and this he balances out with the like of Sorry I'm Away So Much, a genuinely moving address to his young son. It's this sheer range which makes Xzibit one of the greats; and whilst he's produced some fine albums since this one, Restless still sounds like the best to me.

Get your walk on,
Get your head right,
I know you feeling this shit,
Shit is dead right,
Get your bounce on,
Back that ass up,
Bitch, pass me the bottle,
Fill your glass up.

Yeah - I'd say that just about settles it.

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