Xzibit Details How Dr. Dre Operated On His Career & Brought It To Life (Video)
Twenty years ago, Xzibit’s career buckled up for a skyrocketing trajectory. Since the mid-’90s, the prodigy of King T had released two albums, worked closely with E-Swift and Tha Alkaholiks, and recorded some incredible freestyles. A California transplant, Mr. X-To-The-Z was a true school MC with major distribution. He was label-mates with M.O.P., Cella Dwellas, and Pete Rock. In two short years, he would become a TV host, an actor, a hit-maker, and under many roofs, a household name.
Dr. Dre had a ton to do with that. So did Snoop, Eminem, and Nate Dogg. The gravelly voice MC with Michigan and New Mexico roots suddenly sounded like a long-lost fit within this ensemble. On the latest episode of Drink Champs, Xzibit reflects on that transformation.
“It was wild. I had made a name for myself in L.A. Hip-Hop already in the underground,” remembers Xzibit at the 28:00 mark. “Ras [Kass], will.i.am, all those cats, we used to all be in a club called Unity. That’s where the rappers were coming from. Project Blowed was like another style, another side that was doing the same thing coming up. There was like this real, live, vibrant scene coming up in Los Angeles. And so, once Snoop went from Death Row [Records] over to Master P’s label, No Limit, you know, we had had interaction. I was cool with Snoop. He called me, and he was like ‘Yo we working on this album. I want you to come get down. I think Dr. Dre’s gonna do the beat. Is it cool if he calls you?'”
He continues, “So then, a couple minutes later, Dre called me. He tells me [that is currently] at Echo Sound [Studios. Dr. Dre said], ‘Wanna come through and see what you got?’ I think the phone was still in the air when I was already out the door, man, like some cartoon sh*t. I was already moving. So I ended up going to the studio. It took me about 15 minutes to write [‘B*tch Please’]. Then I laid it, and I shook [Dr. Dre’s] hand, and I thanked him for the opportunity. I didn’t ask where [or] who I should send the invoice to. I didn’t ask about publishing and sh*t; I didn’t ask what the split was. I didn’t give a f*ck. He said it was for Top Dogg, for Snoop’s album. [I] thanked him for the opportunity. Boom.”
X continues, “Like a couple of weeks later, Snoop called me and was like, ‘Hey nephew, you know we usin’ that [song] as a single?’ I was like ‘Oh sh*t!’ Then I [knew] my life is about to change. And sure enough, as an underground cat, being on MTV and being pushed across that platform at the time was huge. There was no online sh*t that could really like pump it to where it was. It was like video shows and the DJ’s making this [introduction] work. So, that was like my first time really on [the charts]. Then, Dre started being [more] interested in what I was doing.”
Twenty years later, Xzibit and Dr. Dre have remained continually close since “B*tch Please,” which got the sequel treatment for Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. Recently, X was part of Dr. Dre’s Beats1 radio show, The Pharmacy with DJ Pooh. The MC reflects on that relationship. “I never once asked Dr. Dre to pay me for anything that we did together because I was already on Loud [Records in a deal with] Columbia. I was like, ‘They should be paying you.’ So then, that opportunity led to me being invited to be on . Then we ended up going on the Up In Smoke Tour, and that was it, man. It went up another level. That was a very pivotal point in my career.”
Deeper into the discussion (44:00), Xzibit explains Dr. Dre executive producing 2000’s Restless and 2002’s Man Vs. Machine, even though the MC was not on Aftermath Entertainment or Interscope. “After we had did, “What U See Is What U Get,” Loud [Records] said, ‘Go back and make another album.’ They didn’t want to film another video.” X, who had released 1996’s At The Speed Of Life and 1998’s 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz said that Loud’s founder, Steve Rifkind, suggested the artist quickly make a third album following the success of “B*tch Please.”
“I didn’t wanna do an album; I just refused the budget,” Xzibit says he was very unhappy with his label and its founder at that time. “Steve tried to show up to the first Up In Smoke show and was turned away at the gate. Because they asked me [if I wanted to let him in] and I felt like, ‘Why should you be able to benefit off something that you had nothing to do with?’ This relationship that I built with Snoop and Dr. Dre and all these guys is on my accord… Even though it would be so opportune for me to record a [third] album, I know you’re not going to do right by it. Everybody thought I was on Aftermath; everybody thought I was on Interscope.”
Dr. Dre, who experienced problems at several labels in his career, proved to be an ally. “Dre knew what I was going through, but that’s about it. So afterwards, like halfway, midway through the tour, Dre and Jimmy [Iovine] called Steve in and asked, ‘Okay so, we love Xzibit. We love what’s going on with his career. We love working with him. We know you’ve brought him to this point. How can we get him over here with us to be with us?’ And Steve said…he wrote a number on a piece of paper.” Reportedly, the price Rifkind wanted to buy out Xzibit’s contract caused Interscope’s chairman to gasp. No deal was ever reached.
Xzibit explains, “I felt like Steve was trying to f*ck my sh*t up. You know what I’m saying? And he’s like, ‘You’re like my son. I started with you. We’re going to do this thing together.’ I was like, ‘Bro, you didn’t even want to film [more 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz videos] when we had the #1 [song] across all Hip-Hop. So I was at odds with the label. Then, when we finished the tour [Steve] was like, ‘Let’s do a record.’ I was like, ‘I’m only going to do it if you [financially] take care of Dr. Dre.’ And Dr. Dre was like, ‘You’re going to pay me this [dollar amount]. And then we’re going to f*cking do this. And we’re going to get it done. But, I don’t want this money to come from Xzibit; I want this to come from you.'” Dre insisted that the fees for his involvement came from the label, and not the artist’s budget. That ultimately led to two albums.
“Dre has always been 100,000% with me,” reflects X. “I will never say anything derogatory or negative about him. I will always be by his side. I will always ride with him. That’s my ni**a. He’s my friend. He’s my mentor. He made a lot of things happen in my career that I never thought would happen. And we still to this day have a rapport that we could sit in a room and chop it just like this, on some real sh*t.”
Kxng Crooked (aka Crooked I) joins Xzibit as a guest in the episode. He explains, in great detail, why he is frustrated by the disbanding of Slaughterhouse.