Xzibit Restless

By debuting on the Alkaholiks' 1995 Coast II Coast album, Xzibit made his membership of the Likwit Crew official and went on to release two patchy, yet under-appreciated albums. But all that changed with an appearance on Snoop Dogg's "B Please" and X to the Z has been fingered as the man to watch ever since. How he was going to please his underground following and his new fans was always going to be an issue on Restless, and unfortunately, his long-time adherents lose out. With Dr. Dre acting as executive producer, the musical direction is West Coast funk at full tilt and the overall approach isn't too far removed from Dre's own established formula. The difference here is Dre actually produces very little but brings aboard many other producers trying to unsuccessfully emulate him, which proves to be Restless' downfall. The uninspiring backdrops do little to accentuate Xzibit's raspy voice or delivery and don't seem to inspire him, and guest artists (like Eminem on "Don't Approach Us") threaten to steal songs from him. Even his track with the Alkaholiks fails to get the pulse racing and things hardly get better when he's on his own. One of the few reflective moments, "Sorry I'm Away So Much," is dedicated to his son, but it pales in comparison to "The Foundation," a track on the same subject from his At The Speed of Life debut. Ironically, it's his very first single, "Paparazzi," which warned of being in the rap game for money and the fame, that Xzibit should be taking heed of, as his capitulation to spoon-feed the uninitiated just leaves a sour, disappointing taste for everyone. (Sony)